The University of Pretoria has appointed a Temporary Representative Committee (TRC) to provisionally take on the role of the SRC. This follows the 2011 SRC election controversy (for full coverage of last year’s election troubles, see our article “Why you have no SRC yet” on perdeby.co.za). Student movement AfriForum Youth has taken the university to court over the matter, demanding the 2011 election results be released. The case is set to appear before the Gauteng North High Court on 17 February. Controversy in the 2011 elections centred around AfriForum’s distribution of pamphlets on the Hatfield campus which contained the names and pictures of faculty candidates. Under their photographs was the caption, “Vote for the AfriForum candidate in your faculty”.
Prof. Niek Grové, Registrar of the university, told Perdeby: “These aforesaid actions constitute a serious violation of the applicable campaigning rules, including the rule prohibiting any society from undertaking any marketing campaigns on behalf of any candidate in another constituency.” According to Prof. Grové, “Political societies are permitted to influence the outcome of the elections in faculties, inter alia by spending substantial amounts of money provided by interest groups from outside the university in this manner, the whole SRC election will once again become party-political in nature. And that is something that is not in the interest of the university or its student body.”
The TRC has been appointed to perform all tasks and duties carried out by SRC until all court proceedings have been concluded and a new SRC has been elected. The TRC will be tasked with ensuring that the various student events in the first few months of this year are “properly planned and managed,” Grové added.
The TRC is appointed by the Rector of the university and the Chairperson of the Council and comprises between 9 to 51 members, 50% of which should be members of the previous year’s SRC, while the rest are selected from various societies within the university.
Chairman of the TRC, Mthokozisi Nkosi expressed his longing for the court proceedings to be settled and for the university and all of its student body movements to veer towards establishing a legitimate SRC. “In the event of any dispute the university should handle it quickly and this should be done out of principle.” Nkosi also stressed that the current TRC members will display proud efficiency in carrying out their duties towards Tukkies students. Chairperson of AfriForum Youth and former SRC Chairperson, Charl Oberholzer supports the appointment of the TRC for student needs. However, he also pointed out that the TRC could experience problems as they do not possess any decision-making power and are permitted only to function in an administrative role before being replaced by a permanent committee. Oberholzer stated that societies within the university share a common need for a permanent SRC to be appointed in order for any political action to be fully acknowledged and administered.
According to Prof. Grové , no decisions with regard to appointing a new SRC have yet been made. “Pending the finalisation of the court proceedings, the university will not be taking any further steps and/or actions towards the re-election,” he said.