Wits Daso pulls out of “unconstitutional” SRC by-election

The Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (Daso) has pulled out of today’s SRC by-elections, claiming that they are “unconstitutional”.

Daso said the elections are unconstitutional because they fall under a “moratorium clause” which stipulates that there should be no social events within three weeks of exams, according to a press statement released by the organisation. However, according to the moratorium on social events issued by the Dean of Student on the 20th of April, which Wits Vuvuzela has in its possession, the moratorium will be in effect from the 8th of May – two weeks before June examinations. The exam period at Wits begins on May 24.

Daso also argue that under the SRC constitution, a by-election can only be held if there are two or more vacancies to be filled. The by-election on May 5, are being held to fill one space vacated by Lesego Mokwena who left the SRC before her term was over. The SRC constitution, under Section 11 says that “in the event of any executive or other office falling vacant, the SRC must elect one of its members to such office by no later than the next ordinary meeting”. The dean of students, Dr Puleng Lenka-Bula could not be reached for comment at the time of publication. Wits SRC media relations officer Mzwanele Ntshwanti declined to comment on the matter.

DASO also allege that Mokwena’s election was “unlawful” in the first instance as she was not a full-time student at the time.  “… The previously elected person it is alleged was not a registered Wits student. She was a candidate of the Progressive Youth Alliance and had been unlawfully elected to serve as the Wits SRC,” read a statement from DASO. The SRC constitution stipulates that a member ceases to be part of the SRC when they cease to be a student of the university.

South African Student Congress (Sasco), coordinator Lesley Ramutlwa said the university management failed to detect that Mokwena was not eligible to run as a candidate last year, as she was not a registered student.

“The system has flaws,” said Ramutlwa.  “The university failed to do its duty and by letting her run [for the elections] they didn’t protect her identity”, said Ramutlwa.

Wits Daso secretary Yanga Damane says they have written to the vice-chancellor demanding an explanation for the election of Mokwena.

“We need a report to tell us what happened.  We don’t have confidence in the system used by the university,” said Damane.

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