On 8 September the ex-officio SRC members, who could not be inaugurated along with the elective SRC portfolios on 31 August, were eventually inaugurated. This happened after several democratically elected black ex-officio members stepped down for white candidates to take their places. The reason for the ex-officio members having to step down was because the SRC did not comply with Section 12 of Annexure A of the Constitution for Student Governance (CSG). Perdeby asked students for their opinions on the matter.
Erin Dick (BCom Financial Science)
I think that the people that were there [from the] beginning were voted in so that should indicate that’s who the student body wanted. Also, I feel like 40% is slightly excessive. I don’t think that it represents the demographics of South Africa. I feel like [the distribution] should be the same as the population of South Africa.
Ferdinand Botha (BSc IT)
Fundamentally democracy has its problems, just like all other systems. If you were voted in then I think you should stay…. You can’t put people in who weren’t voted for, or didn’t apply [for the position].
Yusuf Suliman (BEng Mechanical Engineering)
I think that if people are elected, they should remain in their position. However, the black and white thing, I don’t agree with the quota system and it suits certain people. If it was an all-white council then obviously they would have been removed, all black council the same is applied. So there is a bit of hypocrisy there. I feel like if majority elected these people and they are willing to step down for the quota system then it is fine, but if you are being forcibly removed I don’t think it is fair to those that voted them in.
Barry Coetzee (BCom Accounting)
I think they should reconsider the constitution, because democracy is all about [being] for the people, of the people, by the people. The people who get voted for by the people, they should lead, so they might have to reconsider the constitution.
Siyabonga Z. Mjali ( Msc Mathematics Statistics)
I believe that it is right to try and keep the quotas of each race, so that everyone is represented. The issue is, if you’re looking at the quota system… at least 40% of the people are elected must be black. “Black” encapsulates a lot of people. Coloured Indians, Africans […] and all these other groups that basically fit in one basket. So, it’s kind of unfair to say that should happen. I believe that if you’re going to say that, then there should be a number of people that are black, a number of people that are coloured and other people that are Indian that are representing their ethnic group. You can’t just say ‘one basket, black people’. It opens a lot of room for chaos. Make it a bit more comprehensive to the demographic.
Leylan Aurakeasamy (BEng Computer Engineering)
If it was the other way around it would have been fine, it wouldn’t have been a problem. Because it is now against black people then it becomes a problem.
Jesuloba Ilesanmi (BA Hons Political Science)
We can choose to visualise it from the race situation, but let’s visualise it from the procedural situation. At the end of the day, are we arguing that the rules are messed up in general, or just in this case. If we’re saying that it’s just messed up now, that’s a problem, because we cannot change rules to suit how we feel. At the same time if we look at it from the race aspect, [black ex-officio members were] given [the] position and it it’s not [their] fault that [there were not] enough white people to come into office. It’s different if you increase the number of ex-officios, that’s fair, but if the rules dictate that you have to have a certain amount, therefore [removing] them, that’s a different story. It depends on how you visualise it…. If the rules that we all agreed to and signed a contract on state, then I agree and accept, but it’s messed [up].
Kiara Deonorain (LLB)
The CSG in itself is problematic. They need to amend the CSG before we can deal with all of those kinds of things. I feel like it was wrong [that] all four ex-officios [were replaced by] all white females, because they were democratically elected, so it defeats the process of democracy. But I do understand that the interests of all races [and] genders needs to be represented as well. I just feel like the CSG needs to be amended.
Ameera Mahomed (LLB)
I regard it as being unfair, because it has nothing to do with your skin colour and more of why you should be suitable for the position itself. If it is already 40% just whites and 40% of blacks, Indians and coloureds in one category, already by that it is regarded as unfair. I just don’t think that selections based on colour are justified.
Huvasan Reddy (LLB)
In my opinion, the reshuffle of student leaders goes against the principles of democracy. South Africa is a Constitutional democracy, and the CSG does not align with basic democratic principles. It is unfair on both student leaders, and those who they lead, to assign student leaders where students had already chosen their preferred candidates. While it would probably not be possible to rectify the issue this year, hopefully the DSA is able to avoid the same issue arising next year. The CSG is definitely due for an amendment, and student leaders need to be directly involved in the amendment. UP definitely needs to promote transformation, which is a key national goal that I fully agree with, however at the same time, this cannot be at the expense of democracy.
Tiego Mohlaba Bsc (Human Genetics)
I understand the quota system is to keep it balanced, but if someone is elected, race shouldn’t be a factor. It’s all about your qualifications and how you can lead.