A valid referendum will only be constituted if the number of UP students who participate in the referendum is equivalent to the number of voters of the “immediate past SRC poll preceding the election”. According to the Director of the DSA, Dr Matete Madiba, the referral to the “previous SRC election” was that of the 2015 SRC election. Head of Student Governance, Mzikazi Noholoza and Deputy Director of the Department, Dr Willem Jorissen explained that the disruptions in the 2016 SRC elections rendered them invalid and not free and fair. “For this reason, the previous complete election is looked at, which is the 2015 SRC election,” explained Noholoza. According to Dr Jorissen, the number of voters in the 2015 SRC election stood at just over 7 000, which is the number which will have to be met or exceeded in favour of a review of the CSG, in order for it to take place.
On 19 April, a sub-council meeting was held with various student structures to announce the opening of the referendum and to initially inform students of its process. According to a statement by the DSA, all measures will be put in place to ensure that the maximum number of UP students participate in the referendum and that all UP students are encouraged to take part. The statement detailed two possible scenarios of the referendum; firstly, a majority request for the continuation of the current CSG with improvements to the implementation process, and secondly, a majority request for a new CSG model. If it is decided in the referendum that the current CSG should be retained, the DSA will oversee an improved version of the CSG which will be achieved through amendments to it. If the referendum outcome is that a new CSG model is needed, Project Molaotheo will be implemented.
Project Molaotheo will drive the complete rewriting of the CSG, which will see student participation and oversight by the DSA. Dr. Madiba explained that Project Molaotheo will determine whether there will be a rewrite or simple improvements made to the CSG. In the case of the need for a rewrite, a steering committee will be appointed at a later stage to oversee the review of the CSG.
EFFSC-UP Deputy-Chairperson, Caroline Letsoalo, said that EFFSC-UP supports the referendum and wants students to participate in the changing of the CSG. “The CSG is very neo-liberal [and] exclusive and it does not necessarily go about equality on campus,” said Letsoalo. She explained that the current CSG lacked student power, and that students were subjected to micromanagement by UP management and the Temporary Student Committee. Letsoalo said that the CSG needs to be changed in order to enforce more accountability from the Student Representative Council (SRC) to the student populace. “Right now we have a call for the total removal of the structure of the CSG being neo-liberal and we would also like to call for a student centred parliament, robustly holding the SRC and university accountable,” added Letsoalo.
According to AfriForum Youth Tuks Branch Chairperson, Renier Goosen, there is a general need for students to have a say and the referendum should not be exclusively for political parties to make decisions. Goosen further added that although certain aspects of the CSG need to be reviewed, a complete rewrite is not necessary. In particular, Goosen said that “the structure [of the CSG] should provide a platform where student governance has accountability towards students”.
DASO Secretary, Sebastian Bielderman, said DASO UP also supports the referendum and that student involvement in the process is crucial. “One of the major issues DASO has with the current CSG is that the subsections relating to disrupted elections are vague and [have] not allowed for fresh elections to be held,” said Bielderman, adding that “…these subsections must be reviewed as proper, fair re-elections must be held in the event of disruptions”.
Photo: Emma Paulet