DURBAN – The ANC-aligned South African Students Congress (Sasco) said on Monday that its loss of four key campuses in KwaZulu-Natal was due to its own weaknesses and had nothing to do with the strength of opposition parties. 

Over the past month, Sasco has lost its majority student representative council (SRC) positions to the Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC). 

KwaZulu-Natal is an ANC stronghold, and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are small players in the province’s political arena, so the wins have left the ANC shocked, particularly as a national election takes place in 2019. 

At the beginning of September, the fighters took the Durban University of Technology (EFFSC 8 seats, Sasco 0), while last week they won eight seats to Sasco three at the Mangosuthu University of Technology (EFFSC 8, Sasco 3). 

Over the weekend, the fighters also won the University of Zululand elections by taking all ten seats from Sasco. They also took all 10 seats at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College campus. 

“…we seriously regret the losses we have suffered in four campuses that have always been our stronghold as Sasco. These losses are only attributable to our own internal weaknesses as opposed to the strength of our ideological opponents,” said Mqondisi Duma, Sasco KZN chairperson during a press briefing at the ANC provincial headquarters in Durban.  

Duma said the student organisation had noted “false narratives” that exaggerated losses at some institutions. 

“It must be noted that out of 102 campuses in the province of KZN, including TVET Colleges and Universities, universities of technology as well as private institutions of higher learning, Sasco has made a clean sweep, winning 98 SRC elections while the EFF student command won a paltry four campuses: DUT, UniZulu, MUT and UKZN Westville. 

The losses were a “wake up call” said Duma, for Sasco and the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), which is made up of ANC youth league members and communist party youth members, to conduct introspection “and reconnect with the basic issues affecting the student community”. 

There was no need to “press the political panic button”, said Duma. 

“As Sasco, we say this not because we have chosen to bury our proverbial heads in the sand, but we remain convinced that the sensationalist headlines and news coverage of this anomaly is precisely [because of the] fact that an unanticipated outcome has emerged, hence it is news. Had Sasco swept clean the electorate tables, this would not be a prominent news media item.”

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African News Agency (ANA)