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 EFF’s proposal to name-change buildings, receives backlash


GIVE US A CHANCE: Among other things, Wits EFF proposed to change the names of residences and some buildings in the name of transformation. Photo: Nqobile Dludla

By Lutho Mtongana and Nqobile Dludla

A proposal to change the names of campus buildings by political new kids in the block, Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), was welcomed with backlashes at the SRC General Elections Great Debate today.

Wits EFF chairperson, Vuyani Pambo, said they  aim to change the names of buildings on campus to honour those of “Africa’s heroes” including the Great Hall which served as the venue for the debate.

“I think it’s important that we locate ourselves so that we know where we are sitting, we are in Africa by the way but the buildings around us do not signify that … You would think in a university where [Robert] Sobukwe lectured, that hall will bear that powerful man’s name on it,” said Pambo.

Wits EFF candidate, Cathrine Seabe, said the party is “planning to help the VC with his 2020 vision of making wits university a more cosmopolitan university”. She said the Wits EFF would also work to racially integrate the campus.

“We are going to do this through university residences, that’s where it starts, we still don’t have enough students in university residences, we still don’t have enough racial groups,” said Seabe.

One of the PYA candidates rebutted the EFF’s name changing plan for some Wits buildings, saying “next thing you know they [Wits EFF] will change [the name] Mens Res to Julius Malema”.

Also disagreeing with Wits EFF’s vision, Project W said that the university has bigger problems than changing names of buildings on campus, arguing that there lot of students who are being academically excluded. They made the accusation that the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA)-led SRC “waits for students to fail first before helping them fight academic exclusion.”

Project W’s statement drew the ire of the PYA whose supporters threw their hands in the air in disagreement, chanting “Hhayi hhayi, unamanga!” [No, no, you are lying!].

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela after the debate, Seabe said she felt that their proposals as the EFF was dismissed. She said they were not given an opportunity to engage with the students and elaborate on their points.

“We didn’t necessarily get the engagement that we wanted, not only from the other parties as well but from the audience [too] … We are coming around as the new kids in the block asking them to give us a chance,” Seabe said.

The debate held at the Great Hall was to introduce students to the 2014/2015 SRC candidates.

Tomorrow, a round of circuses at residences and other campus buildings will begin where candidates will debate each other and take questions from students on their grievances and issues.