Student bodies from both the ANC and DA say the RhodesMustFall campaign led to their demise at the UCT SRC and gave rise to the EFF’s Student Command. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha
Student bodies from both the ANC and DA say the RhodesMustFall campaign led to their demise at the UCT SRC and gave rise to the EFF’s Student Command. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha

EFF’s Student Command dominates SRC elections

By Tshego Lepule Time of article published Oct 24, 2021

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The EFFSC is out performing the ANC’s South African Student Congress (SASCO) and the DA’s Student Organisation (DASO).

POLITICIANS campaigning for local government elections are not the only ones canvassing for votes. Students across the country are also taking to the polls to elect Student Representative Councils.

Over the last couple of months numerous institutions of higher learning have been electing new council bodies to represent students for the upcoming academic year.

And the EFF’s Student Command (EFFSC) has been leading the pack in the number of seats it obtains at some of the country’s largest universities, out performing the ANC’s South African Student Congress (SASCO) with the DA’s Student Organisation (DASO).

This week the UCT released the final SRC results where the EFFSC won 8 of the 15 seats, while independent candidates won the remaining seven. Tebogo Mabusela, an independent, received the most votes with 3 146, followed by 2 738 for the EFF’s Jess Griesel, a move that sparked controversy on social media as the first white EFF candidate to win.

On Saturday the EFFSC also retained control of the University of Free State with four seats and the remaining going to independents as SASCO got none. Earlier this month they also won all five seats each at the University of KwaZulu Natal’s Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses. At the University of Johannesburg the EFFSC also won 12 and 11 seats respectively at the Doornfontein and Auckland Park Kingsway Campus.

EFFSC president Mandla Shikwambana said students were voting for the EFF because they believed in what it stood for.

“Students continue experiencing challenges with registration, bursaries and accessing tertiary education and the government is not coming to the table with solutions. Then we come to present our manifesto which resonates with students,” he said.

“And we don’t only speak because after taking over we make sure we deliver on what we committed on. DASO and SASCO have detached themselves from students, they used to vote for them before our inception and they would occupy offices and do nothing which represents what their mothers bodies are doing in government.

“So students realized there was a new kid on the block who was willing to work with them. At UCT for example, this will be our fourth consecutive year in office.

“The same with UFS, we were in power in the last elections and we retained it again this year. We have killed DASO and PASMA and we will do the same with SASCO.”

DASO’s Sakhile Mngadi admitted the structure had struggled, particularly after Covid-19.

“Some of our traditional bases like UCT - if you look at the political climate and what the narratives are within student politics, it shows that students are swinging towards FeesMustFall and FFSC rhetoric more than student governance,” he said.

“We have been affected by the media and the perceptions created by the mother body, which aren’t necessarily true but have an impact on voting patterns. We are talking about people believing the DA is a white organisation that is protecting minority rights and students in higher education who are predominantly black feed off of that and that hurts our support. So we do need to self-correct and attack disinformation when it arises.

“We did well in a few (institutions), we have won some seats and run councils in a number of places in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, and grown support in some TVET colleges, the support for DASO remains strong,”Mngadi said.

In the Western Cape, both the University of the Western Cape and Cape Peninsula University of Cape Technology are yet to set a date for their SRC elections which EFF leader Julius Malema capitalized on during the Cape Town leg of campaigns when he held a rally with students from UCT, CPUT and UWC in Bellville.

SASCO Western Cape deputy chairperson Zizo Vokwana said they were confident they will win-back their stronghold this year.

“While the EFF won last year for this year’s term, UWC is SASCO’s healthiest branch in the Western Cape and our stronghold. So the plan is to engage people more, particularly on the online platform because that is where we are failing. The only time we lost was when the elections were held online,” she said.

Political analyst Zweli Ndevu said the youth are the EFF’s biggest support base and it was therefore unsurprising to see their good performance at university level.

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