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DASO to dispute 2018 NMU SRC election results 'due to irregularities'

Oct 1, 2018
DASO to dispute 2018 NMU SRC election results 'due to irregularities'

The Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) says it will be disputing the results of last week's Nelson Mandela University (NMU) Student Representative Council (SRC) elections, which were won by the South African Students Congress (SASCO).

Combined, there are 45 seats in the Nelson Mandela University SRC. From this 45, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Student Command won one seat; while the DASO won three seats and SASCO retained leadership of the SRC with a majority 41 seats.

The African National Congress (ANC) in the Eastern Cape on Friday congratulated it’s ally, SASCO, on the victory, which comes after the ANC found itself back in power in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality after being defeated by the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the 2016 Local Government Elections. 

Serious flaws in how NMU SRC election was run

According to Hlomela Bucwa MP - DASO Eastern Cape Constituency Leader, there were serious procedural flaws in the way the NMU SRC election was run.

"It was very clear that the Independent Elections Facilitators of South Africa (IEFSA), appointed by NMU to manage the election, was biased towards the ANC-aligned South African Students Congress (SASCO)," she described.

"According to the university, the company was appointed due to the unavailability of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)."

Bucwa added that IEFSA has strong links with the ANC and is run by senior ANC members and is therefore not independent. DASO raised these issues when IEFSA was appointed, but to no avail.

"SASCO members were also used to run the election with IEFSA.

"The election threshold was also no met.  The constitutional threshold is 25%. In total 5 723 students out of more than 27 000 registered students voted. The failure to meet the threshold means that the student council cannot recognise the outcome of the election," she described.

"It is clear that the IEC, an organisation with an impeccable record of fairness, should always be appointed to run SRC elections."

Bucwa said that some of the objections highlighted by DASO are:

  • The demarcation of some of the voting stations were done on an ad hoc basis and this was done by SASCO’s request;
  • Presiding officers at some of the voting stations took instruction from SASCO members;
  • A shortage of ballot papers at the different campuses;
  • Illegal canvassing by SASCO while student were standing in line to vote;
  • When wanting to raise an objection, agents were informed that there were no objection forms and agents should draft an email to the IEFSA and they would look into any matters

"The EFF has also made it clear that it will be disputing the SRC election and therefore the only people not disputing are those that are complicit.

"IEFSA was also in charge of the chaotic SRC election at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT)," she noted.

"At TUT, observers from different political parties were not allowed to view all ballots before they were counted.

"A shortage of ballot papers, missing ballot papers, interference with ballot papers, missing presiding officers and bribe taking were some of the irregularities picked up at TUT."

Bucwa said that following this, TUT appointed Grant Thornton to conduct a full-scale independent forensic investigation into allegations of irregularities.

"The election results were declared null and void and an interim SRC has been put in place.

"In addition to submitting our objections, the DASO chairperson will be writing to the chairperson of the student council to highlight the dangers in waiving the threshold and ignoring the issues raised in recognising an illegitimate SRC," Bucwa said.

"DASO calls on the University hold a fresh and free election, presided over by the IEC and in the meantime put an interim SRC in place."

Allegations of SASCO-led SRC abusing funds

The SASCO victory came even after the DASO on Tuesday last week claimed that while 2 600 students at the Nelson Mandela University are still awaiting allowances for meals, books and transport, the SASCO-led SRC had spent R1.5 million on parties.

"This is only one of various examples of reckless and wasteful expenditure SASCO has incurred with the Student Representative Council (SRC) budget of more than R4.1 million," said Bucwa, who is a former NMU SRC President.

Image: Hlomela Bucwa MP, DASO EC Constituency Leader, and Kwanda Jakalase - DASO NMU SRC President candidate.

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