UPDATE: In a previous version of this article we stated that SRC Treasurer Duanne van Wyk “shouted inaudible remarks at objecting members of the House.” In a Facebook post, Van Wyk clarified that those remarks were that the SRC was allowed to vote at the meeting, saying “we’re allowed to vote, we are part of the quorum.” We also reported that the SRC had staged a walk-out of the Student Forum. According to Van Wyk’s Facebook post, the SRC did not engage in a walk-out but rather the chairperson had signaled the end of the meeting when the SRC decided to leave the venue.
The First Quarter Student Forum, which was held by the UP Student Representative Council (SRC) on 27 March, ended without any items on the agenda being discussed. The Forum was held in the Sanlam Auditorium and lasted just over an hour, although two and a half hours had been allotted. This was the first Forum held since 5 May 2016, which was also dissolved.
Items that were included in the agenda for the Forum included a presentation of a SRC quarterly report (which would have been delivered by SRC President, Kwena Moloto), a financial report and budget for 2018 (which would have been delivered by SRC Treasurer, Duane van Wyk), and amendments to the Constitution for Student Governance (which would have been delivered by SRC Deputy-President, Mamello Malotsi). None of these items were discussed during the Forum.
The Constitution for Student Governance (CSG) has sections that deal with Student Forums. Section 41(2) of the CSG contains responsibilities that the SRC has when it comes to Student Forums. Section 41(2)(a) stipulates that the “quarterly reports must be made available on ClickUP and notice boards on all campuses two weeks before the next quarterly meeting”. Section 41(2)(b) stipulates that “the SRC Secretary must notify the members of the Student Forum, including the Student Body, on ClickUP, posters and notices on all campuses of the date, time and venue two weeks before the next meeting”. Members of Sasco Tukkies Branch questioned the constitutionality of the Forum, as these requirements were not met. The Chairperson of the Forum, Deputy-Chief of the Constitutional Tribunal, Rethabile Shabalala, admitted that the requirements were not met because the SRC does not have access to ClickUP. The Chair said that they contacted Faculty House Chairpersons and asked them to communicate the details of the Forum to their students. The Chairperson confirmed that the Forum was constitutional.
Members from the House then requested that amendments to the CSG (which was scheduled for later in the Forum) be heard first. After the first vote, no majority vote was reached. Students raised more questions and arguments regarding changes to the agenda. Another vote was taken. Some members of the House objected to the SRC participating in the voting procedure and raised their objections.
Section 41(3) of the CSG states that “the quorum for meetings of the Student Forum is at least 30 students as intended in section 41(1) and will apply for the duration of the meeting”. Section 41(1) includes members of the SRC Executive Committee as part of the quorum. This means that if a vote is taken during a meeting, the SRC Executive Committee may participate in the voting procedure.
SRC Treasurer, Duane van Wyk, then shouted at objecting members of the House that the SRC was actually allowed to vote in the meeting as they too constituted part of the quorum. This then caused louder screaming. Members of the SRC then left the venue after the chairperson had indicated that the forum had been closed.
Perdeby spoke to SRC Treasurer, Duane van Wyk, moments after the Forum ended. Van Wyk said that the SRC was disappointed on how the Forum went and added that the SRC tried to do everything according to the rules as set out in the CSG. Van Wyk said that students have the right to know what is going on within the SRC and added that, if needed, the SRC will find alternative ways such as online videos to have a Student Forum.
In a Facebook post, Daso UP said that “the SRC POA’s and quarterly reports were available online prior to the Student Forum held on the 27th ”. In the post, Daso admitted that the chairperson did not follow all of the correct procedures.
In a statement, the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), which consists of Sasco, the ANCYL, YCL, and MSA said, “We as the PYA would like to remind the Daso-led SRC that their escape from accountability at the Student Forum would not […] be repeated and the events of last night’s student Forum was an escape route that you embarked on in order to ensure that you are not held accountable by the same student body that democratically elected you.”