DAVID CROSS

 

Several student movements such as COPE and the Progressive Youth Alliance at theUniversityofPretoriaare dissatisfied with the outcome of the 2011 SRC elections. They have demanded all cases of misconduct to be dealt with in a serious manner by the university.

COPE student movement has made claims of campaign sabotage, accusing “agents” of AfriForum Youth of having violated university policy during the course of the SRC elections. COPE campaign posters were allegedly removed and discarded. Reports indicate AfriForum Youth also released pamphlets containing the names of independent candidates that they wished students to vote for, which is strictly forbidden by university policy.

In addition to these democratic violations, AfriForum Youth election material that was rejected by the IEC was still distributed in large volumes on campus. AfriForum Youth reportedly also broadcasted SMS’s without an opt-out option.

AfriForum was fined R80 000 by university management as a result of the violations, R50 000 of which has been suspended. “SASCO and COPE expressed their dissatisfaction with the results of the AfriForum SEC (Special Election Court) case, claiming that the outcome did not remedy the detrimental effect on the election caused by AfriForum’s conduct,” reported Wesley Timm, Chief Electoral Officer of the IEC. COPE is calling for a harsher punishment to be given to AfriForum Youth, including the disqualification of all candidates contained within their illegally distributed pamphlets as well as a reduction of parliamentary seats. “I have also heard rumours of threats of violence and physical disruption should the results not be released without further consideration,” states Timm. AfriForum Youth has requested an emergency meeting with the rector of the University of Pretoria regarding pressure that youth movement SASCO has applied to the university in order to prevent them from releasing the election results. “SASCO subsequently threatened UP in a letter, stating that they would do anything to ensure that the results of the elections were not released unless AfriForum Youth gave up a number of the seats they had carried,” stated Charl Oberholzer, National Chairman of AfriForum Youth. Jordan Griffiths, DASO Chairman, stated, “We will be demanding the release of the results of the election, which took place on 13 September, over four weeks ago, as well as a release of a judgement against AfriForum for electoral campaign transgressions which may fundamentally affect the fairness of the election outcome.” DASO’s demand for the release of the election results reflects the need for the student parliament to be fairly constituted, as students without access to student representatives are left without assistance in important matters such as financial aid. All complaints regarding the freeness and fairness of the election have now been settled by the IMB (Independent Monitoring Body) and the SEC, however, management at the University of Pretoria has insisted that the election results are not to be released until the election is deemed as free and fair, in addition to talks of a possible re-election if further controversy persists. Over 7000 students voted in the SRC elections, a 20% increase in the number of students who voted in the previous election.

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