Chief electoral officer and deputy director of Student Affairs Dr Willem Jorrisen explains that from the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) side, the election was above board and that all measures were taken to ensure a fair election. Spokesperson for the IEC Kate Bapela said on Thursday that, “The allegations were investigated and the outcome is that the claims are unfounded”.
Sasco members occupied the DSA offices in the Roosmaryn building since the release of the preliminary results, demanding a re-election. Both Sasco and Afriforum threatened to launch court applications concerning the issue. In addition to the protests, a petition for a re-election has begun to circulate.
The Student Governance Constitution (SCG) provides for a 24-hour period where objections can be raised following the release of preliminary results. The deadline for submissions on election disputes closed at 11:30 on Thursday morning and all complaints have been handed over to the Independent Monitoring Body (IMB) for investigation. Submissions were made by Sasco, Afriforum and EFFSC-UP.
Dr Jorissen stated that the preliminary results of the elections stand until the IMB has concluded its investigation into alleged irregularities. The IMB will sit again on Monday 7 September.
The joint statement issued by the political societies questions the credibility and independence of the election bodies as the IEC is chaired by Dr Jorissen, while the IMB is chaired by Prof Anton Kok, the deputy dean of the Law faculty. They also question independent auditors KPMG, who have offices in the BCom faculty building, stating that, “Any auditing done by them is subject to influence by the university in trying to defend its image.”
— Carel Willemse (@Ed_in_Chief) September 3, 2015
Naledi Chirwa, EFFSC-UP’s legal and transformation officer, explained that EFFSC-UP “have come in solidarity with Afriforum, independent candidates and Sasco to show dissatisfaction with the results, and therefore rejecting them as students of the University of Pretoria”. Chirwa feels that “there is only one solution, and that is re-election”. Chirwa did not want to say what EFFSC-UP would do if the university does not respond, but did say that “the university must know that it is re-election or nothing”.
Thabo Shingange, Sasco’s secretary, said in a statement posted on Facebook that, “The IEC cannot account for its actions and as such, Sasco demands a re-election.”
Mine Vorster, Daso’s chairperson, responded to the allegations saying, “Daso Tuks believes that the IEC is an independent organisation, and because they are independent they will not compromise themselves for a certain political agenda. If the IEC and KPMG (who audited the results) found that it was indeed a free and fair election, then Daso sees the election as valid.” Daso candidates took four seats on the SRC, with Kwena Moloto preliminarily announced as president.
Prof. Cheryl de la Rey, vice-chancellor and principal of the university, explained that, “Before declaring an election free and fair, the [IMB] must attend to all complaints and objections. This part of the process is currently underway. The IMB has already met twice this week to consider complaints. Currently, they are considering complaints received from [Afriforum], [EFFSC-UP] and Sasco. In investigating the complaints, the IMB is dependent on the facts as provided by complainants, the IEC, and IMB members’ own observations during the elections.”
On 4 September the IMB sent a list of questions for clarification to the IEC, to allow the IMB to fully understand the context surrounding each complaint. After receiving the IEC’s response to these questions, the IMB will meet again to consider each complaint, make a finding on each complaint, and then make its decision known on whether the elections were free and fair.
Prof. de la Rey concluded that, “Until all investigations have been concluded, no final declaration on the election or its results can be made. The matter will, however, be dealt with expeditiously.”
Photo: Michael Bongani Reinders
Images: Shen Scott