Comment on the SRC election

In 2006 the Council of the University of Pretoria approved a new constitution for student governance. This was done after extensive consultations with students and other stakeholders about the revision of the student governance system. Student governance had for a number of years been plagued by inefficiencies resulting from the poor functioning of the SRC and agendas that were dominated by national party-political conflict rather than real issues that affect the average student on campus. As a result the University Council in 2002 gave an instruction that the party-based system of student governance should be replaced with a more relevant student-focused system.

Three years of consultation between the University management and students, including successive SRCs, other student leaders and the general student community as well as other stakeholders on campus led to the formulation of a new constitution for student governance and the restructuring of the SRC. The new system which was approved by the University Council in 2006 has been in operation since 2007. The new constitution provides for constituency-based student representation and the participation of leaders elected in their individual capacity based on their leadership capabilities and track record rather than the ideologies of an externally-funded party. The aim of the system is to ensure proper representation of UP student interests and an agenda that addresses real student issues, whilst at the same time eliminating the inherent divisiveness of a party-driven system.

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Against the above background, the processes for the election of a new Student Assembly and SRC for 2009 were recently held at UP. This process has, unfortunately, been marred by certain difficulties. On the one hand the difficulties relate to problems with ballot papers in a limited number of constituencies. On the other hand they relate to complaints received regarding the conduct of candidates contesting the election. All these matters are currently being addressed by way of the prescribed processes and have been referred to the Special Electoral Court for adjudication. Please be assured that if it is found that any candidates have been disadvantaged as a result of the difficulties experienced, or there have been transgressions of the rules, appropriate action will be taken. It is worth noting that the alleged irregularities are confined to a limited number of constituencies and thus do not affect the entire election. Claims by external political structures that the election amounted to chaos and is invalid are regrettable and an unnecessary interference in and pressure on internal UP matters. The internal processes will be concluded in due course and the outcome of the election process be made known as soon as possible.

I look forward to a positive conclusion to the matter as soon as possible.

Prof CR de Beer

VICE-PRINCIPAL


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