DA accuses Edgewood SRC of ‘dirty tricks’ campaign

2009-03-12 00:00

“HEATED differences of opinion are to be expected during an election year, but we will not allow the disciplinary system to be used to settle political scores.”

That was the message from UKZN executive dean (students) Trevor Wills yesterday in response to DA allegations that a “dirty tricks” campaign is being waged against two representatives of the Edgewood campus local SRC (ELSRC) who are members of the Democratic Alliance Students’ Organisation (Daso).

In a statement, DA MPL Johann Krog yesterday accused the ANC-led SRC on the campus of “repeated harrassment” of Daso SRC members Lindelihle Mpungose and Siphamandla Masondo, who were briefly — and irregularly — suspended by the ELSRC, apparently on charges that the pair had tried to undermine their colleagues by whipping up student sentiment against the ELSRC.

Krog contends the pair is being targeted because of “dwindling support” and growing dissatisfation with the ANC-led SRC. He said a recent petition signed by over 80 students saw the SRC “hauled over the coals” following claims that a university vehicle was being used for electioneering and private purposes.

Supporting his claim of a concerted campaign against the Daso members, says Krog, is an e-mail sent on February 19 by Edgewood SRC deputy president Thabani Majozi in which he describes the Daso members as “counter-revolutionaries” and thanks central and local Edgewood SRC members for their work in “plotting” against them.

DA KZN media liaison officer Lauren Silen said the charges levelled at the Daso students include leaking confidential information before SRC meetings, putting together a petition and challenging final decisions of the SRC and defying the mandate of the SRC. “None of these charges has been substantiated,” she said.

Wills said yesterday that the rift between the ANC-aligned ELSRC members and members from both Daso and the IFP-affiliated Sadesmo is “common knowledge”. He said he has cautioned the various student groups at Edgewood against abusing the university’s disciplinary system to attack political opponents with whom they are squabbling.

According to Wills, the Daso students were reinstated after the matter was drawn to his attention because the ELSRC had overeached its powers in suspending students before the conclusion of a disciplinary hearing.

At a subsequent hearing held in his office in terms of the UKZN rules for students, Wills found that there was “insufficient justification for the students to be suspended”.

The way is still open for the SRC to pursue disciplinary action against the students, but only if a case can be made and students are granted a fair hearing, said Wills.

Wills confirmed that he has initiated an investigation into allegations that a university vehicle was misued.

Majozi yesterday denied any knowledge of Daso ELSRC members being victimised and declined to comment. “I don’t have to speak to newspapers about it. It is an internal university matter,” he said.

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