The Student Representative Council’s annual elections have been marred by controversy before the candidates have even been announced. Accusations of foul play are bouncing off the walls of Tukkie Werf, and these accusations go right to the top.
The trouble began on Friday July 24 when the following SMS was circulated among Tuks students: “Goeie more! As jy belangstel om studenteraad [sic] te staan, sms ‘ja’ na 0724246333, dan bel ons jou. Studenteraad is baie goed vir jou CV en jy kan veg vir Afrikaans. VF+”.
Perdeby has discovered that the cell phone number used in the SMS belongs to the current SRC chairperson, Hector Beyers, an outspoken member of the VryheidsFront+. Beyers claims that other parties use similar messages and according to him, the SMS is simply an offer inviting students to receive information about candidacy in the elections.
Cilliers Brink, chairperson of the DA affi liate on campus, DASO, says that within the framework of the SRC constitution the SMS is legal, however, there is a clear confl ict of interest. He accuses VF+ members of gate-keeping higher level SRC positions.
For him the proof is that both Beyers and his deputy chair, Charl Oberholzer, are outspoken VF+ members. Brink says, “If Renier Wessels was the real chairman of the VF+ on campus… his number would have been in that SMS, not the number of Hector Beyers, the supposedly apolitical leader of the supposedly apolitical SRC.
If Hector denies that he is in fact the VF+ leader he is being dishonest…” Brink further argues that the VF+ campaigns to get their candidates onto the Student Assembly. Then party loyalties are called in when the time comes to elect high level SRC members.
Yolandi Kruger, chairperson of Tuks Afrikaanse Studente (TAS) has further said that VF+ members acknowledge Beyers and Oberholzer as de facto leaders in the VF+ on campus. The above cell phone number is used by Beyers as a contact number on VF+ press releases, as in the attached release of last year, wherein the VF+ claims to have gained 75% of the seats in the Tuks SRC.
Beyers also stated that the SMS was sent exclusively to VF+ members, and that he would be the best person to give information to the recipients (VF+ members) about running for the SRC. According to the SRC constitution, candidates must represent faculties or the other constituencies such as service providers. The change from political campaigning took place with the amended constitution in 2007.
Dean of Students, Prof. McGlory Speckman, cites political instability on campus as the reason for the change. In the climate of the time, party politics separate students, rather than bridging the gaps between them. Under the new rules of the game, the allegiances of Student Assembly members lie with their constituencies, not with their political affi liations.
Speckman goes further to say that the failures of the SRC are a direct result of student voter apathy, which allows parties such as the VF+ to gain power in student structures. Speckman concurs with the view of both Beyers and Brink that SRC members have the right of freedom of association with political parties.
However, Speckman believes that the SMS is a clear breach of the SRC constitution. He believes that the SMS clearly identifi es the SRC chairperson as pushing his own political agenda from within the SRC, and this warrants disciplinary action. Speckman has begun the process of laying disciplinary charges against Hector Beyers.