Project W reject portfolio decision, look to referendum or legal recourse

Project W members of the Wits SRC (Students Representatives Council) have rejected a decision by the vice-chancellor (VC) about portfolio allocations and will continue to contest the outcome of the process.

Wits VC Prof Adam Habib has ostensibly put an end to the ongoing student leadership spat between Project W and the PYA (Progressive Youth Alliance) by endorsing the recent portfolio allocations but Project W say they will not accept the positions allocated to them.

All members of the SRC were informed of the VC’s decision via a letter on Wednesday but in response Jamie Mighti of Project W said, “We are unavailable to serve in sham portfolios and remain of the view that they were not in the interests of students and are thus unconstitutional.”

According to the response, sent in an email to the Dean of Students, Dr Pamela Dube, Project W said they “cannot serve in portfolios created without our consent and consultation. We will not therefore be taking up those specific portfolio allocations.”

Project W have notified the University that they “will be seeking further recourse from the student body through a referendum as well as through various other platforms both legal and otherwise.”

“We are unavailable to serve in sham portfolios”

On Friday, October 3, Project W walked out of a meeting of the SRC once again, arguing that ‘the best interests of the students are not being considered by the PYA in the portfolios that they are trying to bully the SRC into adopting”, according to Mighti.

“There is a continuing attempt by the PYA to create white elephant portfolios within the SRC to undermine the ability of Project W to serve the students and to attempt to emasculate the organisation’s longevity at the university,” he said.

Mighti added that “A cost benefit analysis of the portfolios proposed by both parties reflects the malice and bad faith of the PYA, as well as illustrating that they have little concern about student problems.”

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela on behalf of the PYA, Sasco chairperson Nompendulo Mkatshwa said: “We are receptive of Prof Habib’s endorsement of the list as re-constituted on Friday, 3 October 2014 as requested by colleagues of Project W. It cannot be that the leadership of students is held ransom by the lack of understanding of democratic centralism by others. It is unfair to the movement we are in – a movement driven by the interest of students.”

Mkatshwa said the portfolios of the SRC elect are in no way exclusive of the development and progress that ought to be achieved by the SRC in the interest of students.

“Now that Prof Habib has endorsed the list, those that want to lead can finally begin doing what students voted for them to do. Not everyone got the office they may have dreamed of, from executive to the last portfolio holder however, a good leader will always make the best of what they are given”, said Mkatshwa.

The VC’s intervention in the tussle between the SRC members, is based on Clause 30 (1) of the SRC Constitution which provides that: “After due notice of its failure to carry out any function or duty, should the SRC continue to fail in carrying out any of its functions or duties, the vice-chancellor has the power to carry out any such function or duty in the spirit and manner prescribed in this Constitution.”

“Having outlined the University’s position, I would like to consider this matter resolved and look forward to working with the new Student Representative Council”, said Habib in his letter.

The 2014/2015 Students Representative Council

1.  Mcebo Dlamini, President

2.  Shaeera Kalla, Deputy President

3 . Senzekahle Mbokazi, General Secretary

4 . Amogelang Manganyi, Deputy Secretary General

5 . Mthuthuzeli Mahlangu, Treasurer

6 . Tanya Otto, International Students Affairs

7 . Gwinyai Dube, Strategic Planning

8 . Omhle Ntshingila, Clubs, Societies & Organizations And Student Governance

9 .   Waseem Talia, Student and Legal Services

10.  Jamie Mighti, Campus Wellness

11 . Fasiha Hassan, Academic

12 . Kabelo Murray, Social and Community Development

13 . Thamsanqa Pooe, Transformation

14 . Enhle Khumalo, Research and Policy

15 . Blaise Koetsie, Projects, Media and Campaigns