Wits DASO will be hosting a car wash fundraising event for WCCO on March 11, 2017 (more…)
After claims of being invisible and not being able openly involved in student politics, the Wits Daso (Democratic Alliance student organisation) is preparing to re-launch itself on campus.
Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, acting Chairman Sihle Mthethwa said it’s now the time to re-introduce Wits Daso to students and shun claims that it’s a “sinking ship”.
“Wits Daso will definitely be visible this year. We are planning a re-launch that will hopefully attract students and bring back the trust students had in us,” said Mthethwa.
Wits Daso’s battle to dominate student politics was put to a test in 2014 when Wits Daso members ran for the 2014 SRC elections in secret under other organisations’ banners, reinforcing the claim that Wits Daso is “invisible”.
But former leader Luyolo Mphithi dismissed the claims that the organisation was invisible on campus. “I think this is a complete fabrication told by those who used guerrilla tactics to dissuade students from voting for Daso.”
“The execution of campaigns is a contributing factor also facing the removal of posters by the usual suspects which makes it seem as [if] Daso is not visible,” added Dikeledi Selowa who chaired the organisation in 2013.
The organisation was regarded as the official opposition to the ANC-led PYA (Progressive Youth Alliance) until 2011/12. Project W, a non-aligned student organisation, have now taken their place.
“What is happening to this organisation is that it is asking itself tough questions about how to drive internal change that is more authentic, visible and trust-worthy,” Mphithi said.
“This is a natural process in any organisation for it to re-think some of its strategies. I think Daso will come out of this re-engineering process much stronger than before and ready to deliver to students,” said Mphithi.
Selowa added: “A re-launch is a formality for the structure, what Daso really needs is to let students be aware of their message,” but said a launch date has not yet been finalised.
“We need to recognise societies who believe that they can work with Daso and form an alliance with them. So we need to identify people who believe in our mission. We will have Blue Thursdays where we approach students and find out what issues they are facing. We need ideas from the very people that we serve,” said Mthethwa.
Selowa believes that “Daso needs to start fighting for the same market as the PYA and to do this it will have to come up with a new approach.”
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.
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.
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.
The Wits ANC Youth League (ANCYL) rushed in the defence of senior drama lecturer Tsepo wa Mamatu and accused the South African media and Wits University of harassing black academics in the country
“This sensationalism suggests to us that Tshepo [sic] wa Mamatu is innocent and that a conspiracy is driving these allegations,” the organisation said in a statement.
The statement accuses the Sunday Times of using “faceless and spineless sources” to compromise the integrity and to humiliate wa Mamatu.
Wa Mamatu has been accused in media reports of sexually assaulting and violating his students during rehearsals, auditions and off-campus for a period of six years.
The Wits Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) published a statement responding to the Wits ANCYL asking “is the race of a person important or the nature of the crime?”
DASO added that wa Mamatu was not only accused of making advances on students but also asked them to “undress, touch themselves, sliding his fingers into their pants, sexual relationships and alleged rape over a period of 6 years”. DASO said the issue should not be about race, but about rape and sexual harassment.
Tshediso Mangope, chairperson of Wits ANCYL, emphasised that their statement wasn’t a racial issue but that wa Mamatu is being crucified by public opinion. He questioned the mechanisms and processes used by Wits University and the students who reported the lecturer to the Sunday Times.
“Why report allegations to the media when no formal complaints were made to the university and the police?” asked Mangope.
“If these students were genuinely violated, they have the opportunity to report these with law enforcement institutions (not the media),” read the Wits ANCYL statement.
SRC representative Tokelo Nhlapo said the university had a history of responding differently to cases based on race.
“I think that Tsepo [wa Mamate] is treated this way because of the colour of his skin” said Nhlapo. “If the university seeked justice, they shouldn’t have made comments in the media.”
Sibulele Mgudlwa, SRC president, believes that the case wasn’t treated fairly. He said the university responded differently when the same allegations were made last year about a white lecturer.
He said the SRC was “not defending or declaring him [wa Mamatu] guilty. [The] priority is students.”
However, Mgudlwa said the mechanisms that deal with sexual harassment and sexual violence issues should be standard across board.
“The university has a tendency of selectively applying its policies,” he said. “Response should be uniform, swift, regardless of race and academic standing.”