Morale boost for ANC Eastern Cape as SASCO wins back Fort Hare

APRIL 22, 2016

With the 2016 Local Government Elections looming, the African National Congress (ANC) in the Eastern Cape received a morale boost after its ally, the South African Students Congress (SASCO) won in Student Representative Council (SRC) elections at the University of Fort Hare.

Results from the elections that were held on Thursday reportedly show that SASCO won the elections by a narrow margin (43% of the vote), while the Democratic Alliance's (DA) student body, DASO got 40%.

Other organisations did not do so well; Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (PASMA) got 8% and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) student command, which contested the elections for the first time, got 7%.

To highlight the importance of this election, DA leader Mmusi Maimane, accompanied by DA Eastern Cape leaders, including Athol Trollip, visited the university's Alice and East London campuses to campaign on behalf of DASO.

Surprise defeat of SASCO

In a surprise win in May last year, DASO beat SASCO for the first time at the historic and formerly only black university in the Eastern Cape. 

Fort Hare is the alma mater of many politicians who steered several independence movements across Southern Africa, including Nelson Mandela; former head of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), Robert Sobukwe, and Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe.

DASO won with 52.5 percent of the vote, up from 20.5 percent in last year’s SRC elections.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Eastern Cape described the defeat of SASCO as a wake-up call for the tripartite alliance.

"Students continue to have faith in DASO"

In a statement on Friday, the DASO said that it "is honoured that so many students at the University of Fort Hare continue to place their faith in us".

"The DASO again won Alice Campus, beating SASCO. This is the largest campus with a student body comprising of students largely from rural areas in the Eastern Cape, over 90% of whom are black.

"DASO increased its support and number of seats at the East London Campus. The results thus mean there was a virtual tie with SASCO overall, with both organisations receiving the exact same seat allocation and DASO retaining the number of seats it won last year."

It added; "DASO narrowly lost the Presidency by 160 votes amidst an onslaught of intimidation and election irregularities due to the votes cast by MPLs and Legislature staff at the satellite Bisho campus.

"It shows that in the Eastern Cape, the DA is growing and winning. This bodes well for our mayoral campaign in Nelson Mandela Bay."

DASO said the Fort Hare elections also show how "a vote for smaller parties, only splits the vote, and allows ANC aligned formations to gain at the expense of our principles of Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity for All.

"It must be noted that we are concerned with a number of irregularities that we observed during the course of the election. This included the non-use of the IEC, as was done last year, and the hiring of a never-heard-of-before private company by the University to facilitate the elections. It also includes a faulty voters roll."

It said that it was concerned that "a letter by a senior staff member at the University encouraging students to vote for SASCO and an onslaught of intimidation throughout the elections from both  University management and the ANC.

"We have lodged objections with the presiding officers and management regarding these concerns and await a response, but provisionally accept the results. Nevertheless, we are extremely proud and greatly honoured that we have retained the support of so many students at a University with a remarkable history that we in the DA celebrate each and every day."

 Images: @Sompondomise and @DAEasternCape via Twitter.