BEYERS DE VOS
Last week Perdeby reported that the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of student parliament were accused of being unconstitutionally elected and that there were calls for them to be dismissed.
However, late last week accusations arose concerning the motives behind these irregularities. It is alleged that the motion, brought by the VF+ at the last sitting of parliament, was an attempt to delay the election of a new SRC member.
DASO Chairperson Jordan Griffiths, who brought these allegations to Perdeby’s attention, claims that the VF+ has known about the unconstitutionality of the Speaker, Peter Sleeman’s, election for at least half the year and that their attempt to discredit him has nothing to do with his competence but is instead aimed at keeping a member of SASCO from being elected into the Student Representative Council.
The SRC seat in question was vacated earlier this year and is considered a quota seat, which therefore needs to be filled by a black woman. Griffiths maintains that because of the quota, the seat would end up being filled by a member of SASCO, regardless of who has majority in parliament.
Francois Cloete, the campus chair of the VF+ and current Deputy Speaker of Parliament, whose position is also under review, denies any of the claims. He calls them “false comments and crap [sic].”
Griffiths claims that the situation was brought to his attention by Hugo Kruger, a member of AfriForum. Kruger confirms that he strongly believes the VF+ had prior knowledge of the Speaker’s election. “But,” he adds, “I cannot speak on their behalf.”
Charl Oberholzer, Chairperson of the SRC, denies that AfriForum has any involvement in the situation. He maintains that if this is a political tactic by the VF+, it is a bad one that could not possibly work. “The position will be filled and it not necessarily by a member of SASCO,” he says. Oberholzer also stresses that SASCO does not currently have a majority in parliament.
Still, Peter Sleeman, who denies having any prior knowledge of the irregularities concerning his election, told Perdeby that there is no way the VF+ hasn’t known about the unconstitutionality of his election since at least January and he maintains they were sitting on the information to use it when it would be politically advantageous. “This is a disgusting use of political power,” he says.
In an email from SASCO member Andrew Masombukato, he apologises to Sleeman and claims that the issue about the unconstitutionality of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker is being used to delegitimise parliament. He asks that Sleeman be allowed to continue with his duties as Speaker. SASCO were among the groups who originally called for Sleeman’s dismissal. Sleeman maintains that if there had been a real issue with his performance it would have resulted in a vote of no confidence and not a political play by the VF+.
Sleeman’s and Cloete’s futures are now in the hands of the constitutional tribunal who will sit on Friday to decide the issue. Parliament reconvenes on 21 July.