AfriForum Youth is demanding answers from the University of Pretoria (UP) after it was announced that the complaints against the EFF candidates for the student council (SR) of the UP (EFFSC UP) have been withdrawn, and a temporary student committee will soon be appointed.
RNews earlier reported that the EFF and its student association were reported to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) while a parliamentary portfolio committee was also requested to investigate after incidents of racism and intimidation were reported at the UP in September.
In its letter, the youth organization asks what process was followed to withdraw the complaints against the EFFSC UP candidates and how this affects their eligibility to serve in the student council.
“Furthermore, AfriForum Youth also wants to know whether the previous ex officio members of the 2024-SR, who will serve in the temporary student committee, will include these EFFSC UP candidates,” says René van der Vyver, spokesperson for AfriForum Youth.
Prof. Themba Mosia, vice-chancellor of the UP, said in a letter that the temporary student committee will be announced on 30 November, but there is no clarity on how and when the final SR for 2024 will be elected and announced.
Van der Vyver says AfriForum Youth is aggrieved by the UP “which folds under political pressure from radical groups at the expense of its students”.
“It is important that parents and students take note of the UP’s position – or the absence of a position – regarding the EFF student association’s (alleged) hate speech and intimidation.
“Furthermore, it speaks volumes that the UP also failed to fully answer our Paia questions about the mandate of the security company on their campus.”
The UP’s SR elections were controversial this year and AfriForum Youth has been involved in this debate since its inception.
“The youth organization has been demanding for some time that the EFFSC UP – which is constantly guilty of hate speech and intimidation – be deregistered as a student association. This is why AfriForum Youth expects a speedy response to their letter,” says Van der Vyver.
No place for ‘discrimination, racism, intimidation’
Rikus Delport, spokesman for the UP, says the university is committed to ensuring that all students’ voices are not only heard, but also valued.
“Upholding the principles of transparency, fairness and inclusiveness remains a firm commitment as we navigate these complex issues.
“We encourage ongoing communication and collaboration to identify solutions that are in the best interests of our students and the broader university community,” says Delport.
He says the recent decision to set aside the contested SR elections and appoint a temporary student council was taken after careful consideration.
“The decision to withdraw the complaints against the SRC candidates was also taken after a thorough assessment of the current situation.
“UP processes against the candidates – who were disqualified by the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) – included further disciplinary processes in terms of the Student Governance Constitution (GSG), but based on all the information available, it was determined that further processes were not necessary is not,” s
“This decision was not influenced by any political party, ideology or external pressure. Our most important priority is to create an environment where every student’s concerns are taken seriously and their voices matter.”
He confirmed that details regarding the composition of the 2024-SR will be announced after the exams on 30 November.
“Once the 2024 SR is constituted, they will assume responsibility for all student-related matters and operational activities. This mandate will be in force until the election of the 2025 SR – which is expected to take place in August or September 2024.
“In accordance with the 2024 academic yearbook, the 2024-’25 UP SR election will be announced on 22 July 2024; this date is the start of the second semester,” says Delport.
He says that as far as the Paia request regarding the mandate of security on university premises is concerned, the UP refutes any claim that they have failed to fully respond to the request.
“We confirm that the UP has indeed responded to the best of its ability to the Paia request in accordance with the provisions of the Act on the Promotion of Access to Information, 2000.
“We further confirm that the safety and security of our students and the UP community in general is a priority for the university.”
He says the university has the best interests of students at heart.
“Discrimination, racism and intimidation have no place in our community. We firmly believe that diversity enriches our campus and we are committed to upholding the principles of equality and inclusion.”