On 23 April, the SRC announced on their official Facebook page that they would be hosting a mass meeting on 8 May at the Piazza, Hatfield campus. However, on 8 May the SRC posted that the mass meeting had been postponed “due to health reasons of an executive member and other unforeseen circumstances”. Shortly after this, another announcement was posted saying that the meeting would take place at 13:30. “Please note [that] previous communications can be ignored,” the announcement read. As stated on a Facebook post, the agenda of the meeting was for “students to come forward with any issues they have”.
Chapter 7, Section 48 subsection (2) of the CSG states, “Mass meetings must be attended by all the members of the executive committee of the SRC and at least five (5) other members of the SRC. Failure of the aforementioned SRC members to attend a Mass Meeting is a violation of the Code of Conduct.” The meeting was presided over by 3 executive members: SRC Secretary, Soraia Machado; SRC Deputy Secretary, Kutlwano Molotsi; and SRC Treasurer, Duane-Jeffery van Wyk. Also in attendance were Media, Marketing & Communications SRC member, Kyle Goosen and SRC member for Postgraduates & International Student Affairs, Jodie Chikowi. The absence of all executive members of the SRC made the mass meeting unconstitutional. “Although it is unconstitutional, any issues raised here will be taken with the serious intent that is needed for it,” said Machado.
According to Section 23, subsection 2(b)(v) of the CSG, the SRC President “Must attend and do whatever is reasonably necessary to ensure the success of mass meetings and presides over mass meetings.” Section 23, subsection 2(d)states that “During any period of absence of the President and Deputy President or inability to perform their duties for whatever reason, the SRC Secretary acts as President.” In this case, Machado acted as President of the SRC.
EFFSC-UP Chairperson, Lebogang Mathebula expressed that, “This SRC, in essence, does not take students seriously.” She further said, “There are concerns that have been raised constantly with the SRC.” According to her, these concerns included the fact that some students do not have accommodation and sleep in the library, some students do not have food, and the increase in food prices at Residence dining halls.
Some students complained about the inefficiency of the new biometrics and card system, to which Machado replied, “Our facilities SRC member has been speaking with the facilities of the university. To change to a new system would be pricey because they have already paid so much money to install the new system, but they are looking for ways to make it more accessible to students to get into campus and more efficient to avoid the lines onto campus.”
Concerns were also raised on the R67 000 budget allocated to the SRC portfolio of Media, Marketing & Communication, whereas only R1 300 was given to RAG by the SRC. Students questioned why there were no buses to transport students from Sunnyside to the Groenkloof campus. Replying to the questions van Wyk said, “That R67 000 is there to ensure that we can fix stuff that previous SRC have broken, for example gazeebos and all of those things to be replaced. The Facebook page and website need to be updated. Prof. [Themba] Mosia [Vice-Principal responsible for Student Affairs and Residence Affairs and Accommodation] said we cannot allow a portfolio like RAG to double dip because they are getting money [directly] from the University.”
Sasco Secretary, Miskah Sattar asked why the SRC has not released a statement regarding the Virtual Open Day when they have known about it for over a month, what the SRC has done to assist students with historical debt and why there has not been any efforts made to fundraise for this. “A lot of black students this year have been financially and academically excluded under the SRC’s watch…when are you guys deciding to account to students? We are now approaching June exams and students are locked out of the system because of you guys.”
In response to Sattar, Van Wyk said, “In fundraising we have been avidly challenging that R10 million … especially with regards to the donor we are actually having a meeting today with Prof. Mosia and tomorrow to have that R11 million come through. That’s not only going to food but that has been allocated proportionally to study finance and to accommodation to replenish the study finance account. Right now the study finance account has currently spent R1.6 million without us even using any forms of fundraising because we were able to just move money around internally to get that done.”
Van Wyk added that they have already approached 8 different companies because it took a long time for them to get a list of approved companies as the University had changed all the different companies that they are allowed to approach. “So now that we have that finalised the list we have already got 6 meetings set up with various investors apart from the one we have … to ensure that more fundraising can come in. We will adequately give you a timeline after the meetings have been made and give you an update as to when the meetings will take place. Especially at the Student Forum happening next week,” he explained.
Photo: Ditebogo Tshaka