A Temporary Student Committee (TSC) has taken the place of the Student Representative Council (SRC) until a SRC can be elected. This follows a failure to complete a review of the constitution in 2012 as well as a ruling by the Independent Monitoring Body (IMB).
“Previous governance decisions as well as shortcomings identified in the constitution required that [it be] reviewed in 2012. The review process could not be concluded in time and elections proceeded on an imperfect version of the constitution, and on the understanding that the review processes would continue and be concluded in 2013,” the university told Perdeby.
However, a number of procedural irregularities in the run-up to the elections resulted in the IMB ruling on 11 October 2012 that continuing with the SRC elections would be procedurally unfair. According to university management, the fact that this ruling took place just before the start of examinations meant that it was not possible to restart the election process before the end of the year. The elections will start afresh in 2013 once the constitution review process has been finalised.
The statute of the university provides for student interests by a student-elected SRC. In the absence of an SRC, the Constitution for Student Governance prescribes that a TSC be appointed for the day-to-day administration of student governance. The TSC must be made up of between nine and fifteen student leaders that are diverse in terms of faculty, constituency, gender and race. Half of these candidates must have previously served on the SRC or Student Parliament.
All representatives must also meet the normal minimum academic and discipline requirements set for student governance.
“Due processes were followed to ensure broad representation in the composition of the TSC,” UP management told Perdeby. The TSC became operational on 17 January this year.
“The absence of an election deprives students of the right to vote, to be represented and to have a say in the highest decision-making bodies of UP,” said AfriForum Youth UP Chairperson Barend Taute. According to Taute, this was the third unsuccessful SRC election held in the last four years. He believes that UP is acting in contradiction to its constitution as well as to the National Higher Education Act.
According to DASO Tuks Branch Leader Thorne Godinho, the postponement of elections and implementation of a TSC is procedurally fair. “As campaigning began, DASO lodged complaints with the university concerning the fact that both AfriForum Youth and COPE were breaking the election rules. We were concerned because the university seemed unable to enforce its own election rules, and although we were not supporters of the strict election rules, DASO still believes that many of those rules existed to ensure an equal playing field,” said Godinho. He added that DASO has championed solutions to the election crisis which included recruiting the national IEC to run the elections, electronic voting and access to online candidate videos, but these were ignored.
Thabo Mdlalose, COPE@Tuks Chairperson said, “Of course a TSC is not as desirable as an SRC, however, with all the irregularities which occurred in the run-up to the elections, a TSC is the only option moving forward. COPE@ Tuks congratulates all those who form part of the structure and hopes UP’s Constitution for Student Governance is completed in time for the 2013 elections.”
SASCO and PASMA failed to comment.
Photo: Brad Donald