The EFF is taking the University of the Witwatersrand to court to interdict this week’s Student Representative Council (SRC) elections, EFF acting spokesperson Fana Mokoena said on Monday.
This was after the university stood by its decision last week to suspend seven EFF supporters who it said had shown no remorse after scuffles during a pre-election debate last week. It had also revoked its recognition of the EFF Student Command (EFFSC) on campus.
Without recognition, the EFFSC is not able to contest elections on August 27 and August. The disciplinaries are expected to be completed by the end of September.
Mokoena told News24 the papers would be filed early on Tuesday to interdict the elections and to reinstate the suspended students’ right to study.
Earlier on Monday, representatives of the Council Exco of the University of the Witwatersrand met the national leadership of the EFF, which included deputy president Floyd Shivambu, national chairperson advocate Dali Mpofu, secretary general Godrich Gardee, Mokoena, Wits EFFSC president Mpho Morolane and the leadership of the EFFSC.
The EFF demanded that the decision of August 21 to deregister the EFFSC be withdrawn, as there was no legal or constitutional basis for it; that the disqualification of the EFF candidates be withdrawn; that the election process be postponed because they have lost lobbying time; and that the suspension of the individual students be lifted.
In a separate statement, the university said the EFF said it had never said it would operate outside the rules of the university, and if any individual had said that, they would have been acting in their individual capacity. The EFF confirmed it had committed itself to being a peaceful and non-violent organisation that engages robustly.
“On the basis of this assurance, the university is willing to withdraw the de-recognition of the Wits EFF as a student society. The Wits EFF can now operate at the University as a duly constituted society, as long as it does so within the framework of our collective rules, including peaceful engagement,” said a statement signed by Dr Randall Carolissen, chairperson of the council.
But, it upheld the decision to disqualify candidates who it believed had violated the Electoral Code of Conduct by disrupting the election debate. This means they cannot participate in the elections.
“We cannot allow a situation where individuals who signed an Electoral Code of Conduct violate it and then continue to operate as candidates,” the statement said. It also upheld the suspensions.
“On the third matter, regarding the suspension of individuals who were violent or threatened violence, and refused to dissociate themselves from this violence, the decision stands and these individuals remain suspended from the University and its activities.”
Suspended after scuffles
The university said last week that it had isolated 15 students after watching video footage of a debate between the EFFSC, the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYC) and student movement Project W last Tuesday.
Eight others the university believed had been involved in the confrontations, had shown remorse, and were not suspended, and can still go to lectures, but face disciplinary procedures.
The EFF said in statements at the weekend that it believes Vice Chancellor Adam Habib is targeting the EFF, and that the party is being singled out on campuses across the country.
This is because Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said in his capacity as SA Communist Party secretary general that he was against the EFF, according to the party.
Mokoena said the EFF disagreed with the council on the last two points, saying video footage they saw did not show EFF members doing anything wrong.
“The EFF appreciates and celebrates the fact that the nonsensical apartheid inspired decision to ban the EFF has been rescinded, yet strongly condemns and expresses utter disgust that the Vice Chancellor Adam Habib refuses to lift the disqualification of EFF SRC candidates and suspension of students,” Mokoena said.
The EFF would file papers to interdict the election process, reinstate the EFF SRC election candidates and lift the suspension of students.