Questions to the President: David Kabwa

 

1.  What has been the status of fee engagements as of date? As per the meeting minutes that have been uploaded onto the website, that end for 5 August, there was not a mention of that as a point of discussion, hence we wanted to get an understanding of what the current status of this engagement with management was?

Recently the update regarding rebates was communicated to students with no rebates and with some concessions. The SRC had been raising the issue in statutory committees throughout the first semester. We are of the belief that there is need for further engagement to better support students. To this end we will be engaging further on the matter.

 

2. In a prior engagement between the SRC and PDBY, the SRC mentioned that “should the POA be updated, students can find it posted on the SRC website during the third quarter”. What is the current status of this now, as we enter the third quarter?

The SRC POA has been updated and will be posted on the SRC website in the week of the 5th of October.

 

3. The third quarter has run it completion, and we observed that there has been a) an absence of a third quarter report uploaded into the SRC website, and also did not see an updated POA uploaded in place of the old POA on the website. We wanted to enquire the a) status of these 2 documents and b) when to expect them?

The SRC third quarter report will be posted on the week of the 26th of October, the POA will be posted on the week of the 5th October.

 

4. The cancellation of the live question and answer session with PDBY Media was motivated by the notion that the SRC would wish to undertake this initiative on their respective platform. What was the reasoning behind not going through with this initiative in the 3rd quarter, as this topic was a point of discussion in the SRC’s meeting held on 5th August? Can we expect such a process to take place anytime soon? What were the suggestions given to the SRC by the aforementioned advisory opinion that was obtained?

Currently, measures in place will take the format as issued by the Chief Justice in the Advisory opinion obtained for the second quarterly forum. These measures are stipulated as follows:

“Interim Measures Ordered [20] As a further attempt to be faithful to the CSG, I have again ordered interim measures in this matter, namely: a standard two week period in which students may submit questions to the SRC must be provided to students, with such a period being triggered by way of due notice to the student population by the SRC Deputy Secretary; the SRC must answer all questions submitted for their attention in writing and in full and publish all answers; the SRC must compile and publish the 2nd Quarter SRC Reports. [21] The interim measures will still allow students to receive information on the activities and operations of the SRC; to scrutinise the SRC’s fulfilment (or nonfulfilment) of its mandate by measuring its performance against the milestones reflected in plans of action etc; and will ensure that they get answers to their questions. That is the best that can be done to ensure accountability, openness and transparency from the SRC under the circumstances.[22] The SRC Reports and answers can be in any format or structure provided that:
(1) they are published widely and are accessible;28 (2) remain accessible for the remainder of the SRC’s term at minimum; (3) are up-to-date and contain all relevant information; (4) are written in plain and understandable language; and (5) are formatted and structured in a coherent and understandable way.”

The focus will remain on ensuring that students are able to engage the SRC on the work done by the Council have their questions answered. In relation to quarter three, the rules of the forum are currently under review. For the time being, the third quarter forum will take place in same format as the second quarterly forum.

 

5. As stipulated in your answer, meeting minutes have indeed been uploaded to the SRC website as mentioned, which has given the student body ample time to peruse them and garner an understanding of SRC meeting proceedings, which we are appreciative of. We wanted to query the fact that the meeting minutes end at 5th August, hence is this acknowledgment of the fact that no SRC meetings have been undertaken since 5th August?

SRC meetings have been continually ongoing. All minutes of the meetings that have taken place between the meeting on the 5th of August until the time of this response will be uploaded to the website. From the week of 12th of October, minutes will be uploaded on a weekly basis to be more accessible to students.

 

Questions to the Deputy President: Mpho Mehlomakulu

  1. In the 2020 SRC Plan of Action, it mentions that you are responsible for challenging the SRC of 2020 to raise 500 cans and 500 sanitary pads every month, this is known as the food drive challenge, how has this project been and has there been any progress ever since the economy slightly opened in level 3? And, following the predicaments of the lockdown and COVID 19, what ways have you come up with to ensure that the project will continue to function in the future?
  2. You are also responsible for the SRC Finance AID towards registration, Pledges, Save the semester and textbooks, please brief us on the exact amount that was allocated for this project, because according to the SRC budget R11 000 has been allocated for projects. Also, how much has the SRC pledged for this initiative? May you please also further explain the challenges that come with being responsible of the SRC Finance AID.
  3. Please brief us on the progress of the following projects, #listentoyourrights, #itstartswithme and please elaborate on how you recorded the CSG and have it accessible to students.
  4. How often do you check the SRCs POA’s? Due to lockdown and majority of SRC not being on campus, how did you keep track of their POA’s? What revision to the POA were made and who authorised it? You are responsible for providing students with the consistency of SRC members, what methods have you used to keep on providing students with the consistency of SRC members because it is not on the SRC website?
  5. What is the current status of the monthly SMS motivation towards student wellness, known as the Bophelo initiative? Was a mode of operation created to undertake this amidst the lockdown?
  6. You are responsible for creating a platform for all religious organisations, where they can meet and discuss ways to impact the students at least once a semester, due to lockdown was that perhaps achieved virtually? Please give us an update on that. Also, what was the objective of the initiative?

* PDBY reached out to the Deputy President numerous times for comment, but did not receive answers to the submitted questions by the time of publication. Any answers received from the Deputy President will be published on pdby.co.za.

 

Questions to the Treasurer: Shaheen Deonarian

1. How are budget allocations undertaken for each portfolio?

Budget allocations for each portfolio are based on the Plan of Action each portfolio submits at the beginning of the year the more projects which require funds in the POA the more funding is provided.

 

2. How much money did the SRC inherit from the previous SRC body, and how much had to paid off to clear the pledges of the previous SRC? 

We did not receive any funds from last years SRC, we only got the budget allocated for this year by the DSA. The last year SRC pledges I know amounted to over a million which was surplus to the budget given to the last year SRC, thus we recieved no funds

 

3. What were the additional costs incurred during the lockdown period and how was the budget adjusted to accommodate this?

The additional cost for the SRC was only the SRC solidarity fund this was a project that was not anticipated and thus had to be re-worked for

 

4. What happens when a portfolio needs more than what was budgeted for before and were there incidences of this during 2020?

In cases where a portfolio needs more money during the year funds are taken from the contingency cost center to supplement the portfolio. This is money I set aside for emergencies or cases like this there were no instances; infact many projects were put on hold due to COVID, so the excess funds we had went to the SRC solidarity fund and the registration period payments.

 

5. How much has the current SRC body left for the incoming SRC body (i.e. the inheritance)?

Currently we are in the process of draining the SRC cost centers for the final quarter to move to the solidarity fund for another round and we will gage how much money we can leave to the incoming SRC depending on the need in the solidarity fund; so no set amount but money will definitely be left for next years registration period.

 

6. Were the allocations to stationary made at the beginning of lockdown, if so, were there talks to redirect this due to many SRC members working from home? 

The stationary budget was drafted prior to lockdown, the SRC never saw a need to use this for members at home as they never expressed any need for stationary thus this will also be drained and redirected.

 

7. Who does a SRC member give an account of what has been spent in their respective portfolios and why does the student body not observe this?

To use funds in the SRC I need to sign-off on the use aswell as the president in some cases thus I keep a running record of all expenses that are made, I can also get a statement from toonbank for costcenters. I do believe the student body should have access to it however this year there were very minimal transfers of portfolios to report, the report of the faculty houses day houses and SRC transfers to the solidarity fund were voted to be confidential by a majority thus that budget could not be released without the chairs and treasurers permission.

 

8. What challenges has the COVID-19 pandemic posed to the budget of the SRC this year?

The system in which the SRC could operate financially changed quite significantly to a system which resulted in alot of delays and alot of dependence on the DSA to make purchases, financially it was not a major impact however to efficiently perform the purchasing for SRC, the on campus system is critical.

 

9. In an effort of transparency, it is mentioned under the Office of the Treasury’s POA that a tab on the student portal page would be devised to have all financial reports accessible by the student body. Deonarain ascertains that it was decided to keep this tab on the UP website to enable non-registered students to view the reports. In commenting on the correct status of this initiative, Deonarain says that “there is a minor tweak for now that needs to be discussed with Tuks Education Innovation as well as the SRC Media Communications officer”.
We wanted to query whether this initiative to make financial budgets more readily available to UP affiliated students and alumni, and whether this is in a stage for the incoming SRC Treasurer to undertake?

It is still a very important activity that needs to be done, it is definitely in a stage where next year it can be completed before the first quarter draws to a close and by no means will be hard to implement once campus opens.

 

10. The status of student and staff pledges for the SRC study aid:
Under the Office of the Treasury’s POA, Deonarain mentions the formulation of pledges “that will challenge staff members, as well as willing students to pledge their salaries to students’ needs”. Deonarain mentions that the SRC “has not impl emented, yet, neither abandoned” the initiative, and confirms re-visitation of the initiative once campus activities resume. Deonarain cites potential lockdown extensions, and lack of full salary payment as potential motivation to not run the pledge initiatives immediately, but focus on it in later months when activities return to normal. Deonarain indicates that the pledges mentioned in the POA also referred to interdepartmental budgets, as it would make the initiative “more successful, not to only target salaries but rather than have unnecessarily expensive teambuilding excursions or workshops we use the saved money for the SRC study aid”. It was confirmed by Deonarain that that all SRC members gave away 20% of their budgets allocated to their portfolio, and that talks are under way with the DSA about further cuts to the budget that will be revisited once campus reopens. We wanted to query the status of these pledges as of now.

There was a lack of purchases and expenses for projects by the SRC due to the nature we found ourselves in the SRC did donate money from its contingency cost center for the solidarity fund which is still ongoing, hence why no final budget was released as more donations will be made, more recently the transformation office made purchases however that is still within toonbank to reflect on the system.

 

11. Additionally:

• The SRC Financial budget on the website gives amounts allocated to each portfolio, yet there are no subdivisions on what this money was spent on, where can the student body find details of this money was spent?
• The financial budget has seen numerous revisions during the course of the year, attributed to the imposed lockdown. When can students obtain copies of these initial budgets that were drafted and changed during the course of the year?
Robinson clarifies that most of the ventures set out in her POA like the addition of drinking taps, panic buttons, and solar powered lights around dark walkways on campus, are in he research phase, and that she had to put her personal POA on hold to assist with student concerns that came to the SRC. The budget allocated for the Office of Facilities, Safety and Security was confirmed by the SRC treasurer, Shaheen Deonarain, as R15 050.

•In a prior engagement with PDBY, you had mentioned that the Office of Facilities, Safety and Security had a budget of R15 050, while the Office of Postgraduate and International Students was allocated as 23 050, which are the exact amounts stipulated in the financial budget that was released. Were there no changes or additions to these budgets since March?

There were not necessarily revisions the budgets were not correctly drafted according to UP Accounting Department as there was a conflict from toonbank and the DSA on how it should be done, hence the delay in the initial release. The revision to the budgest will happen within October and the new budget will be released for the student body. There were no changes to the budget since March yet however I have just received the updated SRC POAs which I then will now set the new budget on for the year end process this will then send a change to portfolios.

 

Questions to the Study Finance Officer: Thulaganyo Kola

1. It was mentioned in the SRC 2020 Plan of Action that new bursary opportunities will be given to students monthly. Please update us on the progress of that initiative. How many students have actually gotten bursaries this year with that initiative in place?

I encourage all students who approach my office to apply for the UP financial aid. By applying for financial aid, students are therefore exposed to funding opportunities through UP managed bursaries. However, through consultations with different students, I refer them to available funding opportunities which they are eligible for. My office has also worked with sponsors such as the Mastercard scholarship, which we advertise for postgraduate students to apply for.

2. You mentioned that camps student job opportunities would be advertised. Due, to the lockdown predicaments following, what were the challenges within this initiative and how did you try and alleviate that?

Due to the pandemic and students being away from campus, this initiative has not been possible because students jobs on campus was not feasible during this time. Students, however, continue to receive other remote job opportunities directly from career services.

 

3. How is it ensured that everyone that applies for financial aid has applied for it correctly, even without direct contact on campus?

As stated in the first question, I ensure that all students who approach my office with funding difficulties apply for financial aid. I strongly emphasise this because it is essential that every student gets an opportunity to be selected for funding. The SRC through my office was also involved in the financial aid campaign which took place during the lockdown, whereby students received emails on their student email
accounts encouraging them to apply for financial aid and complete their application.

 

4. How many of NSFAS student appeals (helped by the study finance office to draft appeal letters) have actually been successful?

Students who are in need of assistance in this regard and have approached my office have been assisted accordingly with this issue. I do not keep record of the number of students assisted as it falls under the daily work which I do.

 

5. How have you addressed the issue of historical debt during the registration period, as you mentioned that your goal is ensuring that students are able to register irrespective of their historical debt that they acquired?

During the registration period, the SRC through my office facilitated funding the SRC Study Aid Fund whereby students were able to apply for financial assistance. Furthermore, students who approached my office were assisted through UP financial aid with regards to their historical debt.

 

6. How was the student need in Study material addressed, throughout the whole year, before lockdown and during lockdown?

Students who need study material assistance approach my office and I assist accordingly through purchasing the needed materials. This has not changed during lockdown as my office was still able to purchase requested ebook study materials.

 

7. Please give us an update on the Finance 101 initiative in partnership with ABSA (Initiative that helps students with money management) as given in the SRC 2020 Plan of Action.

This initiative was not able to take place due to the lockdown.

 

8. Please give us an update on the Sponsorship letters the SRC said it would send out under the initiative of the SRC being a “brand influencer” , that would help the organisation get sponsors. How much money allocated to this portfolio was spent?

This initiative was not possible due to the circumstances we found ourselves in this

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