With student parliament elections now set to take place next year several political societies say that the failure of the constitution is the true reason for the suspension of the 2012 elections.
Both COPE@Tuks and SASCO said in separate statements that the current constitution needs to be reviewed. This constitution is the product of a review process that was concluded in August.
But SASCO and COPE@Tuks argue that the review process failed because there was little consultation between UP management, political societies and students before the addition of new amendments, including the amendment allowing for a day house constituency. This amendment was the primary reason SASCO withdrew from elections two weeks ago, before the elections were postponed until 2013.
“All the amendments that were approved came from the university,” says Kwarna Kekana, Chairperson of SASCO.
Thabo Mdlalose, chairperson of UP’s COPE branch said, “COPE@Tuks believes in the constitutional review and that the university management is undermining the student population at large if the current constitution stands.”
AfriForum Youth UP, however, said that the real problem is not the constitution but organisations that were not prepared to contest the elections. Barend Taute, chairperson of AfriForum Youth UP, told Perdeby that SASCO is under the false impression that the constitution is flawed and they have unnecessarily withdrawn from the elections and created the current situation.
The issue of giving the day houses a separate constituency in student parliament seems to be the main point of contention surrounding the new constitution. Political societies disagree when it comes to the constitution: some feel that there is no need for a day house constituency in student parliament because it doesn’t represent day students fully. They argue that day houses fall under the societies constituency and the addition of a new constituency would drastically alter the parliamentary model.
“We are not willing to have elections for the sake of having elections. AfriForum have mistaken the real reasons why student governance has failed.” said Kekana.
Thorne Godinho, branch leader of DASO Tuks stated that societies do not represent the entire university body and that the process should be streamlined and opened to all university students.
Mthokozizi Nkosi, the SRC president, stated that he feels that political societies were using the constitutional review to push their own agenda and management listened to those societies instead of allowing the SRC to continue with the election in the correct manner.
The university issued a statement stating that the reasons for the failed elections were due to irregularities in the election process. UP would not elaborate on the nature of these irregularities and did not comment on the constitution or the review process.
Kekana said that SASCO will continue to consult with the university on this issue and will not go to elections until their concerns are addressed. Mdlalose agrees and said the process now is to appoint a Temporary Student Council (TSC) until the constitution can be reviewed again and elections can be held with a clear mandate.
Taute on the other hand wants elections to be held as soon as possible so that students can be represented and have their voices heard.
Illustration: Mathode Talifhani