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On 15 March, the UP Council, the highest decision-making body at the University, approved a proposal to extend this year’s Temporary Student Committee’s (TSC) term of office until general Student Representative Council (SRC) elections are held in the second semester. According to the current (2013) version of the Constitution for Student Governance (CSG), the TSC administers any urgent affairs of the SRC until a new SRC is elected.
A statement dated 5 December 2016 by Acting Vice-Principal of Student Affairs, Prof. Carolina Koornhof, indicated that the 2017 TSC was appointed by UP Council at its meeting on 28 November 2016, with the TSC beginning their term of office on 1 January this year. According to TSC Chairperson, Henrico Barnard, along with the proposal to extend the TSC’s term of office, a further proposal was submitted to the Council. “It was recommended that Council approve the power to approve any amendments to the CSG [to] be delegated to the Standing Committee of Council, as there are interim measures and Council only meets four times a year,” said Barnard. This recommendation to Council was also accepted. Barnard further explained that the CSG was currently under review and that it was not advisable to have elections in the first semester of 2017 until the CSG review had been concluded. “It is also not feasible to have two elections during 2017, one being a re-election of 2016 and then also the annual elections in the second semester,” added Barnard.
Barnard confirmed that SRC elections will be held in the second semester of this year, although they may take place earlier, depending on the CSG review process.
UP spokesperson Candice Jooste confirmed to Perdeby that the TSC’s term of office has been extended until the SRC elections take place.
When asked about the TSC term extension, AfriForum Youth Tuks Branch Chairperson, Renier Goosen, said, “Due to the disruptions last year the TSC has not been democratically elected but [was] a necessary entity at this stage.” Goosen added that AfriForum did not support the TSC term extension as a digital re-election could be held in order to have democratically elected leaders in place.
According to DASO UP Secretary, Sebastian Bielderman, the CSG was again amended in November 2016 and now contains a vague subsection relating to the TSC’s appointment due to disrupted elections. “No time period has been given in which new elections to replace the TSC must be held, which has allowed Management to extend the operational time of the TSC as they please. UP has now had three TSCs in four years, which along with the latest amendments is beginning to create the impression that Management is quite happy to select student representatives and not have them elected by the student body,” said Bielderman. He further added that an impression was given to students that UP Management wanted to micromanage student leadership instead of working parallel to it.
Sasco Secretary Fumani Ndlamini said that Sasco condemns the extension of the TSC term, and said that “Sasco is calling for the reinstatement of student parliament. We note that the DSA has been reluctant to all our calls regarding the amendment of the constitution. The TSC, according to the constitution that they are so eager to keep, has only a six month term. After which a rightfully elected SRC should assume office. It is with contempt to argue anything to the contrary. we have been subject to an unlawful constitution, and we are maintaining our stance on its amendment. But we are opposed to have this so called “constitution” used as a tool to protect Afriforum and its draconian interests.” Ndlamini added, “The University of Pretoria would be undermining students and prove itself racist if it grants this Afriforum led TSC extension, therefore breaking the constitution. This will be met with the highest level of opposition. It would be with great sadness that the university would break the very rules they make just to accommodate a racist Afriforum.”
EFFSC-UP deputy chairperson Caroline Letsoalo said of the TSC term extension that “the EFFSC notices with disappointment the University council’s second attempt at short-circuiting democracy at the institution by unilaterally deciding extend the term of office of the incumbent TSC leadership that is not only illegitimate but is also self-serving as they have occupied those positions because of prestige purposes.” Letsoalo added, “The EFFSC rejects the TSC extenion because it is unconstitutional and the Council is warned to stop testing the patience of black students. Stakeholders were not engaged before the decision was taken and therefore the extension is illegitimate just like the appointment in the first place.”