‘It is a huge responsibility and I am humbled’

Just two weeks ago the newest SRC president was elected at this year’s PYA Branch General Meeting. Nompendulo Mkatshwa (22), affectionately known as Ulo has been chosen to sit on the Wits throne that allows her the power to push student agenda’s and politics. 

AT THE HELM: Newly elected SRC president, Nompendulo Mkatshwa, met with Wits Vuvuzela to discuss her responsibilities, feminism and social issues. Photo: Reuven Blignault

AT THE HELM: Newly elected SRC president, Nompendulo Mkatshwa, met with Wits Vuvuzela to discuss her responsibilities, feminism and social issues.                                 Photo: Reuven Blignault

As the newest president, are you excited or are you nervous about your new appointment? 

It is a huge responsibility and I am humbled. Together with my collectives and the PYA. Remember we have a huge backing, there are four organisations that will back us up in anything that we do and we will deliver as the PYA and the SRC. Our prime being in this institution is to deliver to students, why else would we then have a PYA and SRC? We are the voice of students.

What is your first and most important concern as you enter the role of president of the SRC?

My term will officially begin in November, and I think by then one of the biggest challenges the campus will be faced with will be students writing their exams. To ensure that all students are supported in whatever manner they can, we are readily available to consult any student that needs to consult and [after the exams] when results have come out and students have written their exams, we will ensure that we are here as the PYA and we’ll be here during the holidays to ensure that we represent all students that the institution excludes from itself academically and financially.

In light of the EFF members who were subsequently suspended from the elections, do you think that in any way made PYA an obvious choice for students to vote for?

One may say that a PYA vote is a vote that can be shared with the EFF as well, however speaking as someone who was observing how elections were going, I still think the PYA was going to come out victorious as it did, because at the end of the day students have always had faith in the PYA and we are humbled by that; and it’s not because we are arrogant, it’s because we try our best and we are as authentic as we can be.

As a female president are you going to consciously adopt a feminist approach in pushing women agendas in how you discuss things?

As a gender activist I have my own reasons as to why I don’t want to be called a feminist, because I’ve been called a feminist over and over again and I’m fine with it really but, I refer to myself as a gender activist for various reasons around how there’s a lot of blurred lines around feminist terms, characterization of terminology, and I so want to be part of the revolution that will seek to consolidate all feminists through the best way possible. So, yes I am a gender activist, I believe in the emancipation of all genders in society.

Then what do you advocate for concerning gender related issues? 

I advocate for the engagement and deliberations of issues of LGBTQIA; strongly so because we also reduce the discussion of gender to man and women and that’s not where it is, we talking about everyone.

‘Abnormalities’ in policy for SRC president’s removal

The dismissal of Mcebo Dlamini as SRC president was in line with the SRC constitution. However the provision allowing the vice-chancellor to do so is vague and could create an “opportunity for arbitrary used of power” according to a legal expert.

The decision to remove the Mcebo Dlamini as SRC president was in line with the SRC constitution, however there are “abnormalities” in the provision that was used, said the deputy head of the Wits School of Law.

Dlamini was removed from his position on May 4 by Vice Chancellor Adam Habib who said the former SRC president had been found guilty of misconduct before a disciplinary hearing.

Mtendeweka Mhango the Deputy Head at the School of Law at Wits said Dlamini had been removed in accordance with the SRC Constitution.

“However, it is important to mention that there are a few abnormalities in the above provision, which have been brought to the fore in the current case involving the SRC president and which need to be examined,” he said.

In this case, clause 11(4)(e) of the SRC Constitution was used by the Habib to remove Dlamini. It states that a member of the SRC ceases to be a member if they are found guilty of misconduct by a student disciplinary committee. The member may appeal to the vice-principal or the vice chancellor.

Mhango said, however, the provision is not clear because while it gives power to the vice chancellor it does not describe the legal processes for a SRC member who wishes to appeal. It does not explicitly say what process should be followed when appealing to the vice chancellor or what power the vice chancellor has in granting the appeal.

“This is a problem as it creates opportunity for arbitrary used of power,” said Mhango.

It is also unclear whether the word “appeal” means a request for sympathy to the vice chancellor to not be removed or if it means an application to another person of higher authority for a decision.

The case with Dlamini

Dlamini appeared before a disciplinary panel in February this year where he was found guilty of insulting and assaulting senior members of the university.

In March, Wits Vuvuzela reported that as a result of this verdict, Dlamini was suspended as president. He was allowed to continue studying although he was given a one year suspended sentence of expulsion.

Following the sentence, Dlamini appealed to Habib by asking that his suspension as SRC president be deferred pending the outcome of a review of the disciplinary panel’s decision. Habib agreed, provided the review would be completed in 14 days which did not happen.

Dlamini opposed the delay of the review saying it was the fault of the Wits Legal Office, according to a statement by Habib. Habib said he believes that this delay was partly a result of Dlamini’s inability to provide required documentation to the Legal Office on time.

On the Monday, May 4, two months after Dlamini’s initial suspension, Habib announced that he asked Dlamini to step down as president. He said it appeared as if Dlamini was “deliberately delaying a final decision until the end of his presidential tenure.” This, Habib argued, “would be a violation of the SRC constitution and the principle of justice”.

Habib has denied the former SRC president’s removal was related to his comments in media where he expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and Dlamini’s claims that every white person had a bit of Hitler in them.

Veteran journalist compared to Dlamini over Verwoerd comments

Veteran journalist Allister Sparks yesterday declared apartheid architect and former South African prime minister, Hendrik Verwoerd, as one of the many “smart” politicians he has met in the course of his career. His comments were compared to those made by former Wits SRC president, Mcebo Dlamini’s remarks on his love for Hitler. 

Veteran journalist Allister Sparks has been compared to Mcebo Dlamini after he listed Hendrik Verwoerd as one of the many smart politicians he has encountered at the Democratic Alliance (DA) Federal in Port Elizabeth congress yesterday.

“I’ve encountered some really smart politicians, like the likes of Harry Lawrence, Bernard Friedman, Margaret Ballinger, Helen Zille, Helen Suzman, Zach de Beer, Frederik van Zyl Slabbert, Marais Steyn, Japie Basson and yes, Hendrik Verwoerd,” Sparks said.

The comments, which failed to list a single Black politician, was made in a tribute speech for outgoing DA leader Helen Zille. They were almost immediately condemned by many on Twitter, and subsequently compared to the Facebook post of Dlamini.

Verwoerd is considered to be the ‘architect’ of Apartheid, the system of racial segregation and oppression.

Political analyst and academic Eusebius McKaiser referred to both Sparks’ and Dlamini’s comments as “morally indefensible”

According to Professor Anton Harber, the head of Wits Journalism and the chairperson of the Freedom of Expression Institute, Sparks speaking at a political event is inappropriate for an independent journalist.

“His list of clever polticians showed a deep prejudice,” Harber added.

Harber also listed Sparks’ failure to retract his comments and apologise as one of his errors.

Like Dlamini, he stood by his comments saying that while Verwoerd’s policies were atrocious, the former prime minister built the National Party in an extraordinarily effective way.

“What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to say he was dumb or stupid? He wasn’t stupid,” Sparks is reported to have said.

Meanwhile McKaiser has challenged Sparks to a public debate about his comments.

ProjectW describe SRC President’s comments as “criminal”

Wits campus organisation, ProjectW issued their official statement this week in response to the SRC president’s comments about Hitler. The organisation which forms part of the Wits SRC, described Dlamini’s comments as “reckless”, “offensive” and “criminal”, and said they were tantamount to hate speech. 

The unedited version of the statement is reproduced below: 

“Dear South Africa

On the 26th of April the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) Student Representative
Council (SRC) President Mcebo Dlamini/Sisulu made several comments on Facebook,
he further went on to make statements on various television channels . The effect of these
comments was that

• He loves Adolf Hitler.
• All white people have some Adolf Hitler in them.
• Every white person has an element of hate in them .
• Hitler had great charisma and organizational skills and is worthy of admiration

The SRC constitution states in its preamble that
1. The Students’ Representative Council is committed to exemplary student leadership in
defining the African Century.
2. it will uphold and safeguard the rights of all the students of the University of the
Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

The statements made by Mr Dlamini/ Sisulu are in clear contravention of these two guiding
principles . This is not exemplary behavior. The view that all white people have a bit of
Hitler in them is a clear racist attack and is tantamount to hate speech . The University
belongs to all who attend, this includes white students , to perpetuate hate to a group
against students of this university is not the job of the SRC and is not upholding their rights
to dignity and safety.

Section 2 of the constitution of the University clearly stipulates that our founding values are
based on :
(1) Upholding, respecting and promoting the founding values of the Constitution of the Republic of
South Africa 1996 and the rights contained in the Bill of Rights.
(2) Providing democratic, transparent, effective, accountable and coherent student leadership.
(3) Creating and sustaining an enabling academic environment and vibrant student community
striving for excellence, tolerance and respect for diversity.
(4) Representing the best interests of the student community.

It is evident that Mr Dlamini/ Sisulus statements are in contravention with the ideals of the
Constitution of South Africa and are in the realm of hate speech . It is also clear that these
statements are not in the best interests of the University community broadly , they cause
pain and stigma to several constituents of the university and in addition they bring the
University into disrepute.

The comments made by Mr Dlamini/ Sisulu are also in contravention of rule 18 of the
University which stipulate that no student may act in contempt of the University or act in
ways which bring the University into disrepute. In no way can this level of contravention
be acknowledged as justifiable and ProjectW denounces this as rhetorical hooliganism.

The outcomes of which are the endorsement of Adolf Hitler as a role model. The
veneration of his strategic organization is devoid of ethical considerations . The ends
clearly do not justify the means in the case of Adolf Hitler and the statements made by Mr
Dlamini are a celebration of means for the sake of celebrating means. Tactics can not be
examined with adulation if their outcome is to conjugate hate and perpetuate crimes
against humanity .

It is common cause that Adolf Hitler was a promoter of Eugenics , that he was a war
monger and above that a mass murderer. Hitler was anti black , anti homosexual, anti
women empowerment as well as being violently hateful to the Jewish community . The
extent of his evil are traumatizing to even consider. The hero worshipping of such a man
by influential student leaders , especially from a university with the gravitas of Wits can
reasonably lead to impressionable young minds viewing Adolf Hitler as a credible example
of leadership to emulate.

This form of speech is reckless, it is offensive and it is criminal.
We call upon the Vice Chancellor of the University to exercise his powers of suspension
under rule 1 of the Rules for student discipline to suspend Mcebo Dlamini from the SRC
pending the outcomes of an investigation into his original statements and his subsequent
defense of them.

– ProjectW.”


Wits SRC president responds to VC

Mcebo Dlamini, Wits’ SRC president, has responded to the statement issued by Wits Vice Chancellor (VC) Professor Adam Habib in which Habib’s condemned Dlamini’s recent ‘Adolf Hitler’ comments on a Facebook post. Habib has also referred “Mcebo Dlamini for investigation to see whether disciplinary charges should be brought against him in this regard”.

The unedited version of the statement is reproduced below: 

“Wits University is an anti-black space, built on the sweat and back of black mine-workers who are now long forgotten. The University remembers David Webster, Oliver Schreiner, Barney Barnato and hardly remembers Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, Benedict Wallet Vilakazi, Nelson Mandela, Essop Pahad and many others, alive and others dead.

Wits University privileges white bodies, white thought, white culture and white feelings. In fact, Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib went out of his way campaigning that the university residents are not diverse enough without white students who mostly willingly left residents when more and more black students were allowed into the university.

Professor Habib sent me an email informing me about a formal complaint from “a student and an alumnus about your posting,” and the “charge is of course racism.” He asked that I provide a context of this posting and how I respond to the charge that the posting is racist. I wonder why the Vice-Chancellor asks me to provide context when he has already made a public apology to all white people who are offended by a post I made on my personal Facebook account and subsequently conducted media interviews and expressed his condemnation on my remarks.

Racism is the violent process of black people’s subjugation which requires institutional power to continue the subjugation, something black people in general never had even in the democratic dispensation which gave all whites executive clemency for the mass murder of black people before they even went to court. It’s utterly shocking that given the history of this country that we have not come up with a theoretically coherent view and definition of racism. Racism is not defined to avoid offending white people, so anyone can be a victim, perpetrators become victims and victims become perpetrators.

How could black people be racist? Even after years of racist violence, they met in Kliptown and declared South Africa belongs to all, black and white.

Aldolf Hitler like all whites is no friend to black people but I fail to separate him as a freak of nature from the rest of white people. White people came to Africa to enslave black people, an underestimation of 2.5 million died on their way to America. Not a single person has taken responsibility for this genocide. Black people were violently dispossessed by whites of their land, humanity and dignity through capitalist colonial, exploitation, apartheid and structural racism. No one has taken responsibility for this genocide committed by whites.

History teaches us, that our collective experience as black people with whites have always dehumanized us, robbed us of our dignity, reduced us into permanent visitors in our own land, turned us into migrant labour, perpetual beggars and living copse.

Interestingly during the Rhodes Must Fall campaign and the subsequent defacing of other colonial statures, the public discourse did not highlight the atrocities committed against black people by these white colonialists. The black people that found the statures offensive and the ideas of white superiority they represented were labeled as senseless barbaric criminals who should be arrested. The justification was that despite the white supremacist ideas which these individuals held and the violent land grabs they committed, its heritage and should be preserved. In fact, a handful of whites chained themselves onto the statures prepared to die or harm anyone who dares touch their “history.”

I wonder why Professor Habib did not send a public apology to us black people when a fourth year law student Sinethemba Memela was told by a white student “I will fuckin’ kill you, you black bitch!” when she confronted the student about mocking the accent of a black lecturer? Is it because it was a black student who was racially abused? I wonder why he has not written a public apology to our outrage at the fact that at least 30 black workers outsourced to MJL electrical, a white company by the university have not been paid in months or that they’re not allowed into the library if they want to read and not even allowed to use the public toilets they maintain?

I also wonder how whites in their collective conciseness justify their privilege generated out of the indignity, dehumanization and exploitation of black people. Do they think it’s a coincidence that wherever the white/black dynamic exists, the white is always at the top and black at the bottom or is it because they, all of them in their collective consciousness believe in their supposed superiority and hard work and that black people are simply lazy.

I fear that Wits University punishes black radical thought, anyone who dare offends its white established values or offend white Jews will be punished like the 11 heroic students who put their academic careers on the line and challenged university management for bringing its name and values into disrepute by hosting Israeli funded pianist Yossi Reshef.

– SRC president, Mcebo Dlamini.”


SRC president says: “I love Hitler”

Wits’ SRC president, Mcebo Dlamini caused controversy this weekend after he posted a Facebook status regarding whites and the state of Israel: “I love Adolf Hitler”. Following his Facebook comments, he told Wits Vuvuzela that he admired the German leader, who sent millions to death camps, for his “charisma” and “organisational skills”.

Mcebo Dlamini, Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) president, posted the statement “I love Adolf Hitler” in a comment thread below a graphic comparing modern Israel to Nazi Germany.

Responding to a commenter who wrote “Hitler new [sic] they were up to no good”, Dlamini replied “I love Adolf HITLER”.

When contacted about his comments on Hitler, Dlamini restated his admiration of the fascist leader of Nazi Germany.

“What I love about Hitler is his charisma and his capabilities to organise people. We need more leaders of such cailbre. I love Adolf Hitler,” Dlamini told Wits Vuvuzela.

As the leader of Germany, Hitler is generally blamed for triggering World War II and sending over 6-million Jews to death camps as well as Roma, communists and homosexuals.

“I have researched about president Adolf Hitler. I have read books about president Adolf Hitler. I have watched documentaries about president Adolf Hitler,” Dlamini told Wits Vuvuzela defending his knowledge of the former German dictator.

In the same comment thread, Dlamini wrote that every white person has “an element of Adolf Hitler”.

“I have had numerous encounters with white chaps. From primary  till today I live with white chaps … As I said, they are not Hitler but there is an elements of him in all of them. I connected the dots,” Dlamini said.

Dlamini further defended his remarks and suggested that his love of Hitler had “nothing do to with white people”.

“I find it very absurd that people expect me to regard their enemies as my enemies,” Dlamini said. “The same way I love Robert Mugabe, it has nothing to do with white people.”

Dlamini told Wits Vuvuzela  that “I will write what I like on my Facebook”  and was not on the social media platform to “nurse Jewish people’s feelings”.

“Who told them they deserve special treatment? This is an academic space, we must debate issues not to silence individuals,” he said.

In the comment thread, Dlamini said his post had been reported to Facebook. Dlamini responded: “Shame nxaaaaa fok am not removing it…..truth hurts…face it murderers.”

Mcebo Dlamini's Facebook postw hich was reported for containing "graphic violence". Photo: Facebook.

“I LOVE HITLER”: a screen grab of SRC president Mcebo Dlamini’s Facebook post which declares his “love” of Adolf Hitler. Photo: Facebook.



Mcebo plays hide-and-seek

BACK IN: SRC President Mcebo Dlamini has been re-instated as a member of the SRC after being suspended. Photo: Tendai Dube

BACK IN: SRC President Mcebo Dlamini has been re-instated as a member of the SRC after being suspended. Photo: Tendai Dube

Mcebo Dlamini has been reinstated as a member of the SRC and is back as president—for now.

Dlamini was seen back in the SRC offices and at the Law School Election Council elections on Wednesday

Dlamini was charged with “assault” and insulting senior members of the university staff via emails last year. One of the charges stem from an email sent to the head of Residence Life, Rob Sharman.

The two charges were later combined into a single charge presented at the disciplinary hearing on February 27, where he was found guilty. Dlamini was then suspended from the SRC.

He announced his resignation as SRC President on Facebook on February 28 but, hours later, deleted the posts.

However, earlier this week Dlamini announced he had been reinstated as an SRC member and SRC president.

Dlamini announced on his Facebook page on Tuesday morning that his “suspension had been lifted” by Vice Chancellor Prof Adam Habib who he thanked for “doing the right thing”.

“In short I still remain as the Wits SRC President,” Dlamini said.

Habib confirmed that Dlamini had been reinstated pending a review of Dlamini’s hearing.

“In short I still remain as the Wits SRC President.”

“On an application from him [Dlamini], I suspended his termination from the SRC for two weeks until the review of his hearing is complete,” Habib said. “Otherwise we may have to revise the decision again and it would be disruptive. Now, we can make a final decision within the next two weeks.”

Throughout Dlamini’s suspension, resignation and reinstatement, his fellow Progressive Youth Alliance members have been studiously silent on the issue, refusing to comment publically.

SRC deputy president Shaeera Kalla told Wits Vuvuzela she “was not in a position to comment about Dlamini”.

Wits Vuvuzela has also attempted dozens of times over the past 10 days to contact Dlamini via emails, texts, phone, voicemails, whatsapps and even handwritten notes—all without success.

Wits Vuvuzela was at last able to make an appointment with Dlamini on Wednesday afternoon to finally get his side of the story. However, Dlamini did not pitch.

When contacted about the missed interview he replied via whatsapp: “As we speak I am at UJ attending a graduation.”