The EFF is targeting University of Witwatersrand Vice Chancellor Adam Habib, claiming it will get him removed from the institution.
The EFF’s Dali Mpofu told media that while they cannot participate in this year’s Student Representative Council elections at the university, when they win next year’s election, they will “remove Habib”.
Mpofu was speaking after the High Court in Johannesburg set aside the suspension of six party-affiliated students as well as another student. The party’s urgent application followed the suspension of seven students after a scuffle during an SRC election debate last week Tuesday.
The university had previously also revoked the recognition of the EFF Student Command on campus, before reinstating it.
Said Mpofu: “I want to make two predictions, one is that in next year’s SRC elections the EFF is going to win. The second one is that when the EFF wins, Habib will not be there. We are going to make sure of that.”
But Wits EFF chair Vuyani Pambo said the party will remove Habib this year.
“We are going to make sure that Habib is gone in the next coming two months. We are fighting very hard [for that].”
Habib told News24 that he had a responsibility to ensure a “free and safe campus”.
“I cannot prescribe to the EFF what they need to do. They are at liberty to do what they want to do,” he said.
“As the vice chancellor of the university I have a responsibility… irrespective of whether people think that should not be the case.”
Habib said in a statement earlier that the university disagreed with the lifting of the suspensions, “given that the evidence suggests that these students broke the code of conduct for students by engaging in or threatening physical altercations, and the fact that the university has an obligation to protect the safety and security of its students, staff and visitors”.
“However, the university will respect the decision of the court,” he said.
“The university would like to put this matter behind us so that we can focus on our core activities of teaching, learning, research and social engagement.”
‘SRC is useless’
Pambo said the SRC at Wits could not be effective while Habib is vice chancellor.
“The SRC is useless at Wits university because Habib as God can come down and remove anyone … he wishes and we have dared to take him on. ”
Mpofu denied allegations that the party is violent and said its members are the victims of violence.
“You saw what happened yesterday [on Wednesday at the Tshwane University of Technology], we had a peaceful meeting and our meeting was invaded by ANC hooligans,” he said.
On Wednesday police fired stun grenades to disperse clashing rival organisations ahead of the institution’s SRC elections.
Students had gathered to listen to EFF leader Julius Malema.
“Here [at Wits], when they provoked us… we could have decided enough is enough… [instead] we did two things, we went and sat with them around a table and when that didn’t work, we came to a court of law,” Mpofu said.
“The people who are violent are people like Habib who use apartheid tactics, that when there is a disagreement, [they say] we must ban.”
He said the only reason the court did not give the order for the Wits SRC elections to be halted was because they were already ongoing.
“We think that was exactly what Habib wanted to achieve and we hope he can sleep at night, knowing the EFF is not going to participate.”
Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel said the university would institute disciplinary proceedings against the students within 10 days, as per the court’s order.
“We are glad that the SRC elections will go ahead and that they don’t need to be postponed. In this regard we are hopeful and are reaching out to all our societies, especially the EFF… to please engage within the rules of the university and to ensure that there is no violence on campus,” she said. News24