Student formerly known as a Sisulu says “surnames don’t define you”

WHAT'S IN A NAME?: Mcebo Dlamini says the #Sisulu controversy did not affect his political standing.  Photo: Luca Kotton

WHAT’S IN A NAME?: Mcebo Dlamini says the #Sisulu controversy did not affect his political standing. Photo: Luca Kotton

Wits student Mcebo Dlamini, who falsely claimed to be a member of the prestigious Sisulu family, does not believe the controversy will affect his campaign for SRC.

Dlamini, who is the chair of the Wits Junction house committee, claimed to be “Mcebo Freedom Sisulu”, the lovechild of renowned journalist Zwelakhe Sisulu and a Swazi princess but later admitted to Wits Vuvuzela that this was a lie.

Credible campaigning
Dlamini is now running for SRC as a member of the Progressive Youth Alliance. When asked if he would be campaigning as “Dlamini” or “Sisulu” he replied: “I am campaigning as Mcebo!”
“Some of us are not made by our surnames. Your surname does not define you,” Dlamini told Wits Vuvuzela.
However, Dlamini continues to namecheck the Sisulu family. During a Wits Townhall on August 4, Dlamini asked a question from the audience identifying himself as “Mcebo #Sisulu”.
He told Wits Vuvuzela that his credibility is not affected.
“I’m defined by my character. Only Vuvuzela defined me by my surname,” Dlamini said. “My leadership is not defined by my name.”

“I am always with the marginalised”

He told Wits Vuvuzela that he was a “humble” and “open” person who engaged with all kinds of people. He said he did not hang out with people based on “class” or how important their family is.
“I am always with the marginalised,” Dlamini said.

Confident leadership
The PYA is a coalition of student organisations including the ANC Youth League, SA Student Congress, Young Communist League and Muslim Students Association.
Dlamini said it was not his ambition to be on the SRC and he was asked to run by the PYA. This showed the organisation had “confidence” in his ability to lead.
“It is not my choice to run. It is the confidence of the students who say, ‘you can lead us’,” he said.
Dlamini had also claimed to be studying a “secret” nuclear physics degree at the University of Pretoria. When contacted by Wits Vuvuzela, the university said no such degree existed.
Dlamini said he would not contest statements that he was studying toward a nuclear physics degree. He said Wits Vuvuzela journalists did not have proof to dispute his academic records.
“It’s the people who decide who must be the leader … We can’t deprive students from the opportunity to vote for a leader based on an article that hasn’t been tested,” Dlamini said.
He said the revelations about his deception published in Wits Vuvuzela had not affected his political standing.
“It has had no impact on me,” Dlamini said.
“Mcebo the person still lives … I know who I am, I don’t need a newspaper to define me.”



Vuvuzela slammed over “Sisulu” exposé

Wits Vuvuzela and the Wits Journalism department have been criticised after exposing a student politician who had been falsely claiming to be a member of the prestigious family of struggle hero Walter Sisulu.

Head of Wits Junction house committee Mcebo Freedom Dlamini had claimed to be “Mcebo Sisulu”, the grandchild of Walter Sisulu. Last week, he admitted to Wits Vuvuzela that this was not true and said he used “Sisulu” as a “stage name” or “when I’m excited”.

Reactions from the Wits community ranged from demanding Wits Vuvuzela to retract the article and issue a public apology to thanking the publication for revealing the truth about Dlamini.

“Of course we are aware that Wits Vuvuzela is ran [sic] by non-apologetic white racists,”


Wits Vuvuzela “sensationalist and insensitive”

The South African Students Congress (Sasco) Wits branch responded by calling Wits Vuvuzela “extremely sensationalist, insensitive and highly ignorant”. Wits Sasco criticised Wits Vuvuzela for publishing the article on Dlamini during exam period. 

“We are unequivocally perturbed by Vuvuzela‘s degenerated and haphazard journalism which … has ‘transformed’ overnight into a publication-wing of the department of home affairs,” Wits Sasco said in a statement issued early yesterday morning.

Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) co-ordinator Mbe Mbhele said in a statement that the publication of the article during exam period amounted to “malice” towards Dlamini.


Wits Journalism Department accused of racism

Wits EFF also leveled racism accusations against the Wits Journalism department in the statement released by Mbhele. The statement singled out head of department Prof. Anton Harber, course co-ordinator Jo-Anne Richards and adjunct professor Franz Krüger for criticism.

“Of course we are aware that  Wits Vuvuzela is ran [sic] by non-apologetic white racists,” said Mbhele. “Who used two aspiring black journalists to defame and smear  the character of a fellow student.”

“I personally don’t feel or have ever felt controlled by them. They really don’t impose themselves in the day to day running of the paper or the publishing of stories online,”

Wits Vuvuzela journalist Rofhiwa Madzena, one of the writers of the expose on Dlamini, rejected the accusations by Wits EFF.

“I personally don’t feel or have ever felt controlled by them. They really don’t impose themselves in the day to day running of the paper or the publishing of stories online,” Madzena said.

“Their role is essentially to equip us with the resources and the understanding of how we are supposed to put stories together,” Madzena said.

“The rest is up to us in terms of finding stories and putting them together.”

The Wits Journalism department has defended Wits Vuvuzela for its publication of the article on Dlamini.

“The story is a valid, well-researched news story, showing that a student representative has been misrepresenting himself to the student body and the campus community,” said Krüger in a statement on behalf of the department.

Krüger also rejected the accusations of racism made against the department by Wits EFF calling them “unfounded”.

“Accusations of racism leveled at members of our department are simply an attempt to divert attention from the real issue, which is: our students produced a piece of good journalism of great public interest to members of the student body,” Krüger said.


Call for student boycott of Wits Vuvuzela

Some students and student organisations have taken to Twitter to call for a boycott of Wits Vuvuzela.

“@WitsVuvuzela must be boycotted. They are failing to intellectually stimulate students of the 2nd best university on the continent,” said  former SRC president Sibulele Mgudlwa (@Sibulele_).

However, along with the criticism, there has also been support from the Wits community on social media.

“I thought the article was well written and researched. I wouldn’t know why someone would criticize the publication of something that important,” said Witsie Houston Austin Muzamhindo on the Wits Vuvuzela Facebook page.

Some students said they believed the article was important because Dlamini is a student leader and he must face the music for his false claims.

“If you are going to lie, stand for it and eventually fall for it. Not all students disagree with @witsvuvuzela,” @2_Miza tweeted, yesterday afternoon.

For the full statement by the Wits Journalism department, click here.