We did not pay Twitter influencers – PYA

THE Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) have denied allegations that they paid social media personalities to influence the 2018 Student Representative Council (SRC) elections.
The allegations emerged in an amaBhungane report published on Friday, March 1, which claimed that social media personalities, paid to tweet promotional content and known as ‘influencers’, may have been employed to sway elections in the ANC’s favour.

The report listed last year’s Wits SRC elections as a possible case. The 2018 elections resulted in the PYA winning 12 out of the 13 SRC seats.

The report listed several social media influencers including Wits alumnus Zukhanye Ncapayi, a YouTube and Twitter personality with more than 19 000 followers.

Ncapayi’s Twitter account indicates that on October 16, 2018, she tweeted in support of the PYA and urged her followers to follow suit.  She tweeted that she had voted for the PYA, even though according to her LinkedIn profile she graduated in 2017, making her ineligible to vote in the 2018 SRC elections.

Zukhanye Ncapayi tweeted on October 16, 2018, that she was voting for the Wits PYA in the 2018 SRC elections.                        Photo: Naledi Mashishi

A screenshot emerged on social media during the 2018 SRC campaign of what appeared to be a post by well-known social media influencer, and Ncapayi’s boyfriend and business partner, Karabo Motsoane, in a Wits campaign WhatsApp group: “Afternoon guys. So as some of you might know, SRC elections are underway. And PYA are asking for us to. Promote gor the for 3 days. They’re paying R100 a day.”

The Wits PYA queried the authenticity of the WhatsApp screenshot and the time and tweeted a statement that read: “We would like to clarify that the below screenshot and alleged campaign/WhatsApp group have not been commissioned, endorsed or agreed to by the PYA.”

SRC deputy-president Nkateko Muloiwa said it would have been impossible for the Wits PYA to have paid any social media influencer to tweet in support of the party.

“We cannot get access to cash, as everything has to be approved by the internal financial structures of the university.

“We never paid anyone, and anyone who says otherwise is living in a fool’s paradise,” he told Wits Vuvuzela.

Final-year BA student and Wits EFF member, Duma Nkabinde, said that he found claims that there were paid influencers believable.

“I’m convinced that, yes, the PYA uses characters who seem apolitical on their social networks but have a large following, to influence young people in spaces of higher learning,” he told Wits Vuvuzela.

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits PYA members who were voted onto the SRC in the 2018 elections have denied that they paid social media influencers to swing votes in their favor.
Photo: Provided


Testing time for SRC elections

NEW LEADERSHIP: Witsies queue to vote in SRC elections held on campuses this week. Photo: Nokuthula Zwane

NEW LEADERSHIP: Witsies queue to vote in SRC elections held on campuses this week. Photo: Nokuthula Zwane

CAMPAIGNING for the highly contested Wits 2016/2017 SRC elections during test week has been a strain for some student political organisations. (more…)

Tuks SRC Elections still under investigation

Afriforum Youth, EFFSC UP (Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command of University of Pretoria)  and SASCO (South African Students Congress) marched at University of Pretoria, demanding that SRC elections be re-held after claiming that the elections have been rigged. However, the university is still investigating and presently the preliminary results still stand.

The protests have been ongoing since DASO, the DA student party won most seats and the position of the president in the elections held two weeks ago. The university is still conducting an investigation and have so far opted for a recount and not yet called for re-election.

The dispute started after SASCO released a statement on Facebook stating that “one of our party agents notified us of a discrepancy at one of the voting stations (IT voting station) in which the votes and the voters roll did not correlate (58 more votes than voters); which is not unusual in this institution- it’s a practice they have enjoyed for too long.”

They also claimed that votes were rigged in favour of the DA, and that some polling station boxes were found unsealed.

This was later accompanied by Twitter and Facebook posts of photos that show the open ballot boxes.


Since the university launched the investigation, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) has met with concerned parties for a recount and full audit. Prof. Themba Mosia, vice-principal of student affairs and residences, stated in a media release, “In terms of its constitutional mandate, the IMB has found that a full recount of the SRC election votes must take place in the presence of staff from the Department of Student Affairs (DSA), the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), candidates or party representatives, and the internal auditor authorised to complete the audit.” Prof. Mosia emphasised that the IMB has not yet made a decision on whether or not the elections were free and fair.

“This is another tool to silence student activism,” .
According to Naledi Chirwa, the EFFSC-UP’s legal and transformation officer, “a recount won’t be feasible as a lot of time has passed and the votes have already been tampered with thus not making it optimal at this stage.” “This is another tool to silence student activism,” Chirwa said. Wits Vuvuzela contacted University of Pretoria’s management for an update on the investigation and was told “all the processes regarding the SRC elections have not been finalized.”  


*Sourced from http://www.sabc.co.za/news/a/b20e3d8049ba185e840dd4fb3b358805/University-of-Pretoria-refutes-vote-rigging-claims-20150409 and http://www.perdeby.co.za/sections/news/tuks-news/4514-src-preliminary-election-results-challenged



No campaigning in residences

CANCELLED CIRCUSES: Jabu Mashinini, chief electoral officer, and Thembelihle Dlamini, deputy chief electoral officer, work in the senate house offices coordinating the circuses and SRC elections.  The all res circuses were cancelled due to not being enough time to visit all the reses said Mashinini.

CANCELLED CIRCUSES: Jabu Mashinini, chief electoral officer, and Thembelihle Dlamini, deputy chief electoral officer, work in the senate house offices coordinating the circuses and SRC elections. The all res circuses were cancelled due to not being enough time to visit all the reses said Mashinini. Photo: Dana Da Silva.

The residence circuses have been cancelled due to a new ruling that prevents students from campaigning in reses.

THE SRC election campaign is due to be severely curtailed after the university has ruled that student politicians can no longer campaign in class rooms or in residences, including res circuses.

This follows a meeting between campus political parties and the dean of students on Wednesday.

Initially, Wits chief electoral officer Jabu Mashinini told Wits Vuvuzela that the residence circuses had been postponed on Wednesday morning.

“They are not cancelled they are on hold pending further investigation and we need to ensure that we can provide safety and security for staff and students,” she said.

At the time, Mashinini said that the reason for their postponement was because of the fight that happened at the Great Hall during the inaugural SRC debate. “We cannot ensure safety for anyone at this stage,” said Mashinini.

However, after meetings with other electoral officers the tune changed on Wednesday afternoon when Mashinini said that campaigning in the residences, including the res circuses, had been cancelled. The reason given for the cancellation was that there was “no time to feature all the reses.”

She said the election office did want to give preference to certain residences and so all res circuses would be cancelled.

Instead of campaigning at the reses, circuses have been broken up into clusters, with evening debates taking place at Braamfontein and Park Town.

First hints that campaigning in the residences would be cancelled came on Tuesday when the All Student Residence Council (ARC) tweeted that the res circuses were postponed until further notice. This came straight after the brawl which broke out at the Great Hall between the Wits Economic Freedom Fighters, Progressive Youth Alliance and Project W at the SRC Elections debate.

This was followed by the cancellation of another circus planned at the West campus FNB Building during lunch on Wednesday.

Project W’s campaign manager Jamie Mighti said that, “the problem is deeper than” a decision to cancel the circuses due to a lack of time to feature all of the residences. He claimed that the real reason for the cancellation was that there was a ruling which had been passed by Vice Chancellor Adam Habib that prevents students from campaigning in the reses.

Mighti slammed the decision to cancel the res circuses. “Obviously it impedes our campaign,” he said, adding that it would create an unfair and unfree political environment for students said Mighti.

Mighti said Project W would be taking Wits University to court to demand the right to campaign.

“We are actually taking the university to court in the next two days,” said Mighti. He said the decision to cancel res circuses is a violation of the constitution.

Previously, when asked about the postponement of the res circuses on Wednesday morning Wits head of communications Shirona Patel said the decision would be taken by electoral officers.

“The electoral officers will be meeting today to decide how to take it forward and they are now reworking their plan to see what event they will have to lead up to the SRC elections,” said Patel.

Wits responds to SRC debate disruption

Following a physical altercation which broke out at the Student Representative Council (SRC) debate in the Wits Great Hall earlier today, Wits University has released a statement outlining what actions will be taken against anyone involved in the disruption. The university urges acts of intimidation to be reported to Campus Control and the Dean of Students.

The full statement, issued by Shirona Patel, Head of Communications, is reproduced below:

“Wits University is currently in the midst of its Students’ Representative Council (SRC) elections for 2015/16. An election debate was today disrupted as a result of the conduct of parties and/or individuals and the meeting had to be called off.

Subsequently, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Adam Habib held another meeting with all the election candidates and notified them of the following:

1. The election process will continue but should any party and/or individuals violate the electoral process, the Vice-Chancellor will exercise his right to suspend that party and/or individuals from the elections.

2. All video footage of today’s incident is being reviewed and should individuals be identified as having engaged in violent physical altercations, they will be investigated with a view towards implementing disciplinary procedures.

3. If there is reason to believe that individuals constitute a threat to the safety of others, the Vice-Chancellor will exercise his discretion and rights to consider an immediate suspension of that person or persons from the University.

Wits University will not allow any individual or party to compromise the safety and security of our staff and students and we will act swiftly, within the University’s processes and rules, to end any illegal behaviour.

Any incidents of intimidation should be reported directly to the Dean of Students via Pamela.Dube@wits.ac.za as well as to Campus Control on (011) 717-6666.

We assure our staff, students, parents and guardians that the safety of our students and staff is paramount.”


VIDEO: Why some Witsies did not vote in SRC elections

While many Witsies took to the polls to vote in this year’s SRC elections, there were other students who expressed no interest in the movement. Wits Vuvuzela caught up with these students to find out the issues that lead to these students not voting.




Boycott talks not backed by Education Students Council

Bongiwe Tutu and Rofhiwa Madzena

Calls for a boycott of the SRC elections by education students have not been endorsed by the student council.

Grievance officer, Xolani Khoza, said they want to separate themselves as the Education Student Council (ESC) from the boycott. “We feel that the boycott is being influenced by political parties.”

However, Khoza said as students of Education Campus they would not be voting unless the grievances they had tabled to management were considered. “We are not taken seriously, so why should we vote?”

Khoza said they wanted a “sufficient explanation” from management. “Maybe then we will vote,” he said.

The grievances that were tabled to university management last year include inconvenient library hours, as it closes at 9pm. The lack of frequent buses to education campus “when main campus is closed” is another issue that was brought up.

Khoza said they need “student development organisations” such as the Counselling and Careers’ Development Unit, Student Development and Leadership Unit and First Year Experience.

Khoza said he had heard of student suicides apparently due to the pressures of student life. “We need these facilities to prevent such instances,” he said.

Project W, leader Jamie Mighti commented on the planned boycott by students on Education Campus: “You boycott the SRC elections, how does that improve the SRC? If students want change they need to vote for the right party.”

The SRC’s liaison officer Jabulile Mabuza said: “Many of these issues are issues that are always raised in university meetings by the SRC but because of the bureaucratic system, we have to go through a number of departments before implementation, this is not an easy thing to explain to students.”

Mabuza said many of the issues on education campus “are not a matter of money but a matter of changing the university’s policy”. She said:  “I believe students have the right to voice out their concerns whichever peaceful way to get their voices heard.”

Responding to a request for more ATMs on Education Campus, deputy vice-chancellor Prof Tawana Kupe said there is a Nedbank machine that was placed there about two years ago on the students’ request. “At that stage Nedbank was the only bank interested,” he said.

The ATM is not used enough to warrant the installation of another one, Kupe said. The cashless campus project should relieve the pressure on ATMs and Kudu Bucks’ machines.

He said there is a budget for the cashless campus project and added that implementation will take place “hopefully by latest April 2015”.

Education campus boycott SRC elections

Rofhiwa Madzena and Bongiwe Tutu

Witsies on Education Campus have rallied together to boycott the SRC elections, complaining that they have been marginalised.

The Wits Education Student Council (ESC) Facebook page has been abuzz with complaints and comments by students on Education Campus, with demands that they would like met by the SRC.

The students have threatened to boycott on the day of the elections as a collective and not cast their votes.

The campaign is under the identifiable hashtag: #whyshouldwevote where students place their comments on the ESC Facebook page.

Philip Hlatshwayo wrote: “I think the community of students at Wits Education Campus is taken for granted, we are continually promised services that remain ink on paper, #whyshouldwevote?”

“We are not voting at education campus, we are calling for a boycott of SRC elections at education campus.  We are going to revive and help the ESC deliver because we know it’s not easy – But no votes for SRC,” said Bedney Morole on the ESC Facebook page.

Dzimani James wrote: “#whyshouldwevote? Second and third of September we will still be here asking the same question to the SRC, why vote?”

James was supported by Nqobile McGaga Nqosh, amongst others, who wrote: “I am for the #whyshouldwevote campaign.”

Bedney Morole wrote: “we need a campus that does not just accept things as they come.  This campaign aims to give the ESC teeth to bite”.

Some of the things they want on Education campus include two Kudu Bucks machines, an ATM machine as well as another food outlet.

Former Vice-chairperson of the Education Student Council, Njabulo Mkize honours BA Applied Drama student said that the current food outlet, Olives and Plates is becoming less affordable for students. “It’s a monopoly, they get to determine their own costs because they don’t have competition.”

He also said: “Last year the VC [Prof. Adam Habib] came to Education Campus and he said that they would look into it but still nothing has been done.” “I’m doing my honours on main campus [Braamfontein campus] and you can feel the difference, everything is available here.”

Pkay Mjekevu wrote: “Our aim is to stop the culture of being blinded by unrealistic promises again and again.”

The leaders whom we are going to elect must know that we don’t believe what they say but we recognise what they have done,” he said.

SRC’s liaison officer, Jabulile Mabuza said: “It’s not a secret that Olives and Plates food is expensive for the average student and it’s very frustrating knowing that’s the only food option you have.”

Mjekevu wrote: “Wits extended medical school towards our campus and put hospital on our campus and they did nothing for us.

Don’t tell me about that incomplete lecture theatre at Liseding,” he said.

“Where was SRC when that happened? The SRC has done nothing to make us feel welcomed at Wits.”

Mabuza said: “The University needs to start taking students serious on these issues and if a boycott is what it takes for the University to address these concerns then it must be.”



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.”



Daso on the SRC down low

SINKING SHIP: Daso members are not on the 2014/2015 SRC candidate list. Daso chairperson, Sihle Mthethwa said the members are running "under other brands" because of insufficient candidates.    Photo: Nqobile Dludla

SINKING SHIP: Daso members are not on the 2014/2015 SRC candidate list. Daso chairperson, Sihle Mthethwa said the members are running “under other brands” because of insufficient candidates. Photo: Nqobile Dludla

WITS Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (Daso) members are campaigning in SRC elections—but are keeping their affiliation secret because it “may jeopardise their chances of winning”.

“We as Daso Wits are not standing as an organisation because we have members standing in the SRC elections under different brands,” said Mthethwa.

Mthethwa did not want to disclose the names of the Daso members who were candidates and under which organisations they will be campaigning “as that may jeopardize their chances of winning”.

At last year’s SRC elections Daso failed to win a single seat. The best performing Daso candidate came in 31st place with only 945 votes. The election was dominated by the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and a political newcomer Project W.

“Someone from our party actually told me, ‘I’m not ready to write my name on a sinking ship’. So looking at last year’s results, I was also convinced that Daso should not run as an organisation, but at least we have people in other organisations that we know that they have a chance of making it,” said Mthethwa.

According to Mthethwa, there were not enough Daso members to nominate as candidates. The party attracted less than 10 students who were willing to run under the Daso banner. This was not enough to meet the minimum of 15 candidates required for an organisation.

‘I’m not ready to write my name on a sinking ship “
“We had a meeting on Monday, where we convened as a committee along with the DA deputy spokesperson were we voted whether we are continuing with elections or we pull out,” said Mthethwa.

Mthethwa said he pushed for the organisation to run despite their lack of numbers but the majority of the members preferred an alternative where Daso members would run under other banners.

Mthethwa said the alternative was supported by his deputy chair who he refused to name because the deputy was among those Daso members campaigning in the SRC elections.

Candidate list is out

Tuesday was the final deadline for students to submit their nominations for the 2014 SRC elections. Some candidates were still running around campus, moments before deadline, trying to secure last-minute signatures for their nominations.

Several independent candidates have formed what they call an “apolitical alliance” called Positive State of Mind (PSOM).
“Last year we realised that there are issues here at university that we would also like to deal with and there are certain issues that we can’t deal with unless we take over council and represent the students and therefore we decided to run for SRC this year”, said PSOM candidate Ngcebo Buthelezi. 

We are impressed by the increasing competition regarding SRC elections as this may stand as an indication of a decrease in student apathy at Wits University

Speaking on behalf of the PYA, Wits SA Students Congress chairperson Nompendulo Mkatshwa said they were “impressed” by the large number of students running in the SRC election.

“We are impressed by the increasing competition regarding SRC elections as this may stand as an indication of a decrease in student apathy at Wits University. We do however hope that this increase in competition is not motivated solely by what may seem as a fancy seat in governance,” Mkatshwa said.

The Wits Economic Freedom Fighters are also running in the SRC elections and said they “want all the seats” according to Vuyani Pambo the party’s chairperson.

“We are obviously engaging in a populist exercise and as such we have to mobilise students in numbers and we have plans in place to kick start our campaign,” Pambo added.

Project W could not be reached for comment regarding their plans for the SRC elections.

Candidates are still waiting to be officially given candidate numbers before they can start campaigning.