Wits Debating Union crowned SADC champions

The Wits Debating team have won the SADC championship title for the fourth time. Photo: Wits Communications.

The Wits Debating team has won the SADC championship title for the fourth time. Photo: Wits Communications.

by Buhle Zuma.

The Wits Debating Union (WDU) has reasserted their prowess over university teams from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) by being crowned the champions of the 2014 Southern African Universities Debate Championships.

The championships, known as “nationals”, were hosted by the University of Botswana from 5 to 13 July 2014 and drew more than 400 debaters from 30 universities from the SADC countries.

It was sweet glory for the WDU who not only claimed the championship title but walked away with several awards.

Wits debaters were awarded the seven of the top 10 speaker awards; and Wits as an institution was recognised as the best adjudication/judging institution. Furthermore, a Wits speaker won the public speaking championship category.

Wits for the first time had black debaters in the EFL league

WDU Chairperson Noluthando Yeni, who led the team and kept them motivated, added that the 2014 championships will go down in history as the breakthrough year for female debaters and black debaters.

“For the first time this year, females rose to the finals of the championships, one of which is a Witsie. This achievement was considered one of the most transformational moments in debating history and we are so proud of Wits talent that contributed to this,” Yeni.

Whilst Wits debaters have previously won the English First Language (EFL) title with a few black debaters taking part in this category, there has never been a black champion in the first language and this changed this year.

“Wits for the first time had black debaters in the EFL league who progressed to the final and ultimately won the title,” said Yeni.

“We trained hard this year to break the glass ceiling and we did,” said Yeni with an air of triumph.

The months of hard work paid off as the WDU knocked out their arch rival in debating, the University of Cape Town (UCT).

“UCT is our biggest competitor but two Wits teams managed to defeat them in the knockout phases.”

Having conquered the ‘nationals’, Yeni said the WDU will use the remaining months to train hard to defend their title as the best in Africa at the Pan African Tournament to be hosted by the University of Limpopo in December 2014 as well as improve on their World Rankings at the World Championships and Pre-World Championships.

The WDU lost the championship title in 2013 to UCT. They won the title for three consecutive years in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The Wits Dean of Students, Dr Pamela Dube, has congratulated the WDU for their successes at the tournament.


This article originally appeared on Wits News.

Elections poser for Zimbabwe students


A CHOICE TO MAKE: Zimababweans go to the polls on Wednesday Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

A CHOICE TO MAKE: Zimababweans go to the polls on Wednesday         Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

A LARGE number of Zimbabwe-born Witsies will not be able to cast their votes in what is supposed to be a watershed election for the country next Wednesday.

The July 31 ballot takes place only two weeks into the current university term. Many Witsies say they cannot, financially and academically, afford to travel back to their home towns and exercise their right to vote.

Zimbabwean citizens living and working in South Africa will not be able to cast their votes at the Zimbabwean embassy either, as many had hoped.

This comes after Zimbabwean Electoral Commission failed to put in place organisational measures necessary to allow Zimbabweans living South Africa to vote.

Logistics, however, are not the only reason Witsies born in Zimbabwe said they would not be voting.


Witsies Speak

Third-year BA Law, Politics and International Relations student Tapiwa Gozhore said he hadn’t registered to vote because he did not see a reason to vote.

“I believe there is no choice in the Zimbabwe elections,” Gozhore said.

A Bulawayo-born student, who did not want to give her name, said she was a registered voter but would not be crossing the border to cast her vote.

“In the last one [elections] even though I voted the results were already there, so I think it is a waste of time and money when there’s already a winner,” she said.


In Previous Times

Last month, President Robert Mugabe proclaimed the July 31 election date, citing Zimbabwe’s constitution requirement to push for elections within 30 days.

Opposition parties, mainly the Movement for Democratic Change led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T), as well as the Southern African Development Community, pleaded for a 14 day extension to prepare for the vote, but this was rejected by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF.

Tsvangirai told the New African magazine: “President Robert Mugabe has proceeded to pass unlawful decree enacting on his own amendments to the Electoral Act.”

Bulawayo-born Langa Moyo, Masters Engineering, told Wits Vvuvzela that he had also not registered to vote.

“The time frame wasn’t good enough for me. It [registration] was a rushed thing. You know the opposition and everyone was trying to extend the dates, and the ZANU-PF guys were trying to make sure elections come as early as possible. Everyone was confused about whether to go to Zim now, or should I go later to register.”

Witsie Cassian Mavhaire said he had no plans of returning to Zimababwe because there were no opportunities for graduates in the country.

Mavhaire said Mugabe was the bad guy and MDC-T were the good guys.

“The best situation is for the unity government to be in place rather than for us to have a one-party government,” he said.


Gozhore said he did not see a reason for elections at all in Zimbabwe. He said people were supporting opposition parties only because they despised ZANU-PF.

“For me that’s not a democratic country…People should vote based on choice, so that I vote for MDC because I don’t like ZANU-PF, but I vote for MDC because they have policies that will develop our country for the next 30 years.”