SRC election postponed

2018-10-24 06:03
Students at the Central University of Technology run for their safety after the election for a new Student Representative Council (SRC) descended into chaos on Monday (22/10). The police were called in to restore order on campus.Photo: Mlungisi Louw

Students at the Central University of Technology run for their safety after the election for a new Student Representative Council (SRC) descended into chaos on Monday (22/10). The police were called in to restore order on campus.Photo: Mlungisi Louw

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The belated elections for the new Student Representative Council (SRC) of the Central University of Technology (CUT), Free State, will be held in 2019.

A decision to further postpone the elections was taken on Monday (22/10) after mayhem at the two campuses in Bloemfontein and Welkom.

Dan Maritz, CUT spokes­person, said management considered the safety of staff and students, as well as order on both campuses, in the midst of reports of ongoing victimisation of staff and students.

He said the chaos impacted on the assessments of aca­demic programmes.

Violence by some aggrieved opposing student political organisations also plunged the assessment of modules into disarray on Monday. Following this, the public order police forces were called upon, resulting in the arrest of suspected instigators.

Maritz said the 2018-’19 SRC elections were scheduled to take place on 12 September. He said this did not materialise due to different views by rival student political movements.

“Elections did not take place as planned, due to matters beyond the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) control. A dispute was lodged by one of the participating student political organisations.

“The management, guided by the Terms of Reference of the SRC, embarked on various attempts to address the dispute. Finally, the student political organisation elevated the dispute as an appeal to the vice-chancellor and principal on 9 October.

“To resolve the dispute, the vice-chancellor proposed to the parties involved in the dispute that an arbitration process be conducted, adjudicated by an independent and competent person. For this purpose, Judge SPB Hancke was appointed to act as arbitrator.

“All interested parties to the dispute were invited to attend the arbitration, heard on 16 October. The arbitration ruling was shared with all relevant parties on Thursday (18/10),” Maritz explained.

He said the student political organisation rejected the ruling and indicated it would elevate it to the university council.

“The vice-chancellor endorsed this ruling, and requested the registrar, as the executive manager in charge of student affairs, to attend to this matter with immediate effect, including setting a new date for the elections.

“As the IEC indicated that they are only available for a meeting on 22 October, the management agreed to conti­nue with the 2018 November assessments on 22 October.

“Furthermore, management met with the IEC on 22 October. They expressed their satisfaction with the process implemented to resolve the dispute and agreed that we may continue with the SRC elections,” said Maritz.

The reported victimisation of staff and students by aggrieved members of student political organisations causes concern.

Maritz said the management has decided to implement strategies and interventions to address students’ concerns, namely: endorsing the arbitration ruling or award, affording the university council enough time to attend to the dispute or appeal elevated to them by the student political organisation.

“As the term of office of the 2017-’18 SRC has expired, an interim SRCs at each of the campuses was appointed with effect from Tuesday (23/10).”

Maritz said it was agreed that one member from each of the contesting parties, Economic Freedom Fighters, Student Command, the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania and the South African Students Congress would serve on the interim structure.

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