The University of Johannesburg Auckland Park Kingsway (UJ APK) campus held a Student Parliament seating from the 13th to the 15th of April which was boycotted by opposition parties because there were no formal SRC elections that had taken place for a parliament to be formalised.
By Teboho Fumbeza & Ntozanele Libimbi
“We were supposed to have SRC elections for 2018 which were postponed,” said Malibongwe Ngcobo, a PASMA member. “We cannot have a student parliament without SRC elections. When we appealed this matter our responses were rejected,” Ngcobo added.
“We believe that students must be the ones voting for their leaders and must recognise their leaders so that if something goes wrong they can be accountable to them,” said EFFSC Chairperson David Raphunga.
The SRC elections were postponed because the constitution of the university was under review. PASMA and EFFSC claim that there was no communication as to why the constitution was now under review. Both parties then rejected the notion of being part of a student parliament that was unconstitutional.
“We had our first seating for the year and, according to the constitution, each first seating needed to have a new speaker and scriber,” said EFFSC member and UJ Debating Union speaker Bongani Dlamini. “But the old speaker from Soweto Campus wanted to continue in his role, therefore the plight of the APK students was only for things to go according to the constitution,” Dlamini said.
Despite this boycott, the student parliament continued from 13-15 April. “The SRC constitution isn’t clear about conducting SRC elections before holding a parliamentary seating. However, on Sunday amendments were made with regards to that,” Dlamini added.
“We are still unfairly represented within the parliament because there are SASCO members who are posing as members of opposition parties by wearing their party regalia to balance out members who have in fact boycotted parliament,” Ngcobo alleged.
Raphunga agrees with Ngcobo’s allegation, and still maintains that will not take part as EEFSC. “SASCO plays dirty politics but we will not be intimidated by them; our job as leaders is to rally behind students and for students to rally behind us,” said Raphunga.
UJ APK Chairperson Letlhogonolo Maimane declared these allegations to be a lie. “There’s no member of SASCO, ANCYL or Young communist league who wears an EFF or PASMA shirt, it is the most pathetic thing I could ever hear.” said Maimane.
“However, a person who claims such must bring evidence that seeks to support their claim,” Maimane said, adding that “without evidence this still stands as a claim against SASCO.”
But EFFSC partisan Ngcobo believes the SRC is “captured”. “They are rather ‘MRC’ than SRC,” said Ngcobo, referring to SASCO as ‘Management Representative Council’. “They fail to be accountable to students but [they] account to management,” Ngcobo said.
He went on to say that opposition parties are being alienated by UJ management and SASCO “as our pleas are not being heard.” “However, we will continue to fight for students and for workers of the institution,” Ngcobo said.
UJ management spokesperson Herman Esterhuizen, whom The Open Journal tried to contact about this matter, could not be reached for comment.
Maimane found the boycott unnecessary and said that parties should follow procedure of formally writing down their grievances in order for them to be addressed. He further substantiates that SASCO is not aware of the reasons which caused the boycott as these standard procedures were not followed by opposing parties.
“In a democratic space we have rights that vary, among them being the right to freedom of expression,” Maimane said. “You have the right to express yourself in a way that you feel is enough and you have to do so in writing because this is a formal process, but none of those things were done,” said Maimane.
The EFFSC held a march which they coined as “Occupy Student Finance” on Thursday the 12th of April, this was to make their arguments about student funding issues be heard. During the march, they were attacked by bouncers, and one female student was injured in this incident.
Raphunga insists that the EFFSC will challenge university management and SASCO from outside the student parliament. “EFF Student Command championed the issue about negotiating for Fundza Lushaka students to sign their contracts and gain their funding and student benefits and we were successful in doing so, students had faith in us and we delivered,” said Raphunga.
All SRCs and opposition parties from UJ’s respective campuses have yet to meet with regards to the elections.
(Ntozanele Libimbi: email@example.com, 062 276 9891)
(Teboho Fumbeza: firstname.lastname@example.org, 064 397 4415)
Photo Credit: Valerie Mncube