On Monday 4 October, after a 12 hour long gathering of the student parliament, a new Student Representative Council for 2011 was chosen and there is no representation from the Student Front on the SRC.
The Student Front is a body consisting of the ANC Youth League, PASMA and the South African Students Congress (SASCO). A coalition between Afriforum, the DA Students Organization (DASO), the Freedom Front Plus (VF+), the Congress of the People (COPE), Doxa Deo and University of Pretoria International (UPI) was formed about a week before the gathering of student parliament.
The assembly started out somewhat chaotic. Chief Justice of the Constitutional Tribunal, Thokozani Dlangolo, attempted to establish and maintain order.
Heated debating continued during the entire meeting. Members of SASCO were outraged following a sudden announcement of miscalculation by the Independent Elections Committee (IEC). The matter was quickly resolved by Prof. Schoeman-Malan and the meeting proceeded. Another debate fl ared up as SASCO requested an open floor “for grievances to be discussed” but the request was denied by Dlangolo.
One member of Afriforum, Hügo Krüger, used offensive language towards members of SASCO and caused them to get up and try and leave parliament. A break was announced and the Dean of Students, Prof. M. Speckman, spoke to SASCO members to calm them down.
Krüger was asked to apologise, but members of SASCO said that they do not have confi dence in the system. Four hours later, the fi rst votes for President of the SRC were tallied. Charl Oberholzer from Afriforum received 41 of 74 votes and was announced president of the SRC for 2011. Oberholzer said, “I am happy.
For the first time opposition parties stood together for a common goal. SASCO is out and we now have a chance for the student mandate to be implemented.” SASCO offi cially left parliament at about 21:30 and stated that the process was aristocratic and representation should be equal. Voting proceeded and by 23:00 all 21 members of the SRC were chosen and the meeting adjourned.
Prof. Speckman stated: “We haven’t experienced this kind of marathon election for many years. I hope never again. I am happy that we concluded business at the end of the day. Although, regrettably, we are not ending today as the group we started out.”
Following the election, Oberholzer stated on politicsweb (www.politicsweb.co.za) that he was delighted about the result of the meeting and that the SRC will achieve at least three large victories for UP students in 2011, namely, promoting Afrikaans, obtaining a comprehensive student rights manifesto at, and protecting residence traditions. Politicsweb quoted Obelholzer: “This was the fi rst year in which AfriForum Youth participated in the student council election and the reception by students was overwhelmingly positive.
We received a mandate from students to take a stand for Afrikaans, hostel traditions and student rights, and we will not disappoint them.” It is also stated that Oberholzer is especially glad that a broad alliance could be formed and that the ANCYL and the affi liated SASCO is kept out of the SRC.
“SASCO has a reputation for their aggressive attitude towards Afrikaans and hostel traditions as well as their campaigns to implement stricter quotas at UP. By standing together, we were able to stop them.” Chairperson of SASCO, Sedupe Ramokgopa, said he feels that SASCO was treated unfairly at the elections and that “everyone was ganging up against [them].” Spokesperson for COPE Student Movement at UP, Thabo Mdlalose, stated: “We are committed to a multi racial, inclusive and representative SRC. The executive would like to stress that there is no ideological consensus or similarity with all members of the alliance but rather that it was joined to ensure that the student population as a whole is represented.”
Mdlalose also made it clear that COPE Student Movement is “not for the preservation of Afrikaans as we are a multi racial party.” According to Mdlalose, an invitation to join forces was extended to SASCO to join forces, but they declined. “The statement released by Charl Oberholzer to politicsweb on Wednesday 6 October does not refl ect the views of COPE or the SRC”, said Mdlalose.
Former chairperson of the Temporary Student Committee, Marius Ellis, said, “This (the coalition) is democracy at its best.”