PDBY interviewed three student political parties, namely UP-South African Students Congress, UP-Democratic Alliance, and UP-Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command, pertaining to the initiatives that they have spearheaded during this period of online learning.
SASCO UP, EFFSC UP, and DASO UP all explained their initiatives – driven by their political parties – amidst online learning. Jonas Thulare, the SASCO UP secretary, mentioned that SASCO UP deals with various cases regarding accommodation, exclusions, and appeals. Thulare highlighted that the main focus for SASCO UP this year was centered on empowering women. This was supposed to serve as a demonstration that now is the time for women to take charge of necessary changes. Due to the pandemic, SASCO UP was unable to support the transformation alone. Thus, they find themselves running with the initiative side-by-side with the Progressive Youth Alliance. Thulare also added that a representative from the UP executive will join a lecture hosted by the Progressive Youth Alliance soon. “We communicated with Professor Mosia. We differ at times, however, we want the same for our people,” Thulare added.
With a Gender-Based Violence initiative in the pipeline for DASO UP, Chardonnay Arends, DASO UP Chairperson, mentioned that another initiative that the party takes during lockdown includes a program titled Good News Tuesday by Tshego Mutjiwadi, in collaboration with student wellness committee Recharge Week. It is conducted via DASO UP’s Instagram page.
“Thulare highlighted that the main focus for SASCO UP this year was centered on empowering women.“
Darky Ntiyantiya, EFFSC UP Chairperson, said that EFFSC UP has been carrying out two initiatives. “One of the most recent initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic is the COVID-19 Supplement Drive, led by the current EFFSC UP SRC deployee in the office of Transformation and Student Support, Zama Thabisile Mtshali. Another one is the #Zimbabweanlivesmatter led by another Student Command deployee, in the office of Post-Grad and International Students, Lindani Mgoduka”. Sthembiso Nkosi, the UP-EFFSC Deputy-Chairperson, added that with all the initiatives put in place by the UP-EFFSC, the main objective of the organization is assisting students in achieving academic excellence, and helping prospective UP students to apply for the 2021 academic year, as well as assisting them in applying for academic relief, such as NSFAS.
PDBY asked the various Chairpersons what their organizations’ objectives and inspirations are behind the initiatives they have implemented.
SASCO UP’s Thulare told PDBY that the programmes formulated by SASCO UP are not done so out of aspirations and premeditated innovation. We were faced yet again with challenges that required a contingency plan. Ultimately with time, our policies from national level accommodated issues we face down on the ground. Thus, we do not create any programme for soothing our hearts but [for] assisting our members,” Thulare explained.
Arends said that the inspiration for Good News Tuesday was the negative energy surrounded by the pandemic and lockdown. “We realised that people needed a pick-me-up and that any small reminder of something positive would make the days seem less bleak”. She further added that the Gender-Based Violence initiative was inspired by the gruesome stories that are heard and read on a daily basis in which young women and children get robbed of their dignity and lives.
“We realised that people needed a pick-me-up and that any small reminder of something positive would make the days seem less bleak“
For EFFSC UP, Ntiyantiya outlined that the main objective of the COVID-19 Supplement Drive under the transformation office is to aid and assist disadvantaged students with multivitamins and essential supplies to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus for students in residences and private accommodations. The main objective of the #Zimbabweanlivesmatter initiative is to raise awareness and support the Zimbabwean students at UP. She added that this programme helps to create an environment that is sensitive and considerate towards UP students currently affected by the political climate in Zimbabwe.
Student political parties also shared their thoughts on arising student and SRC matters amidst online learning.
Thulare said that SASCO UP supports the initiative brought by the EFFSC UP – named Black Space. “Black Space created a room for black students. [It] made us understand how – as Abantu (the people) – we are all that we have, each other”.
Arends said to PDBY that DASO UP is aware of the petition by TuksMemes and that they support the fee adjustments and the attempts made to achieve it.
The UP Student Political Parties urge students to contact them. Students can contact SASCO UP on 079 666 4512, DASO UP Chairperson Arends on 076 970 7663, or EFFSC UP Chairperson Ntiyantiya and Deputy-Chairperson Nkosi on 079 159 3689 and 082 804 4770, respectively.