In a landslide victory, the Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC) has won all 15 seats it contested at the institution’s Vanderbijlpark student representative council (SRC). The South African Students Congress (Sasco) salvaged one portfolio, which the EFFSC did not contest.
The SRC elections were held over two days this week, on Wednesday and Thursday. In what the EFF has described as a historic voter turnout, 4 442 students voted.
Troy Mathebula, EFFSC presidential candidate, received 2 389 votes to the 1 973 of the Sasco hopeful. Sasco has been deposed from an SRC it had repeatedly won in recent years, and without competition.
The EFFSC campaigned largely on a card that Sasco had failed to champion interests of students at VUT, and thus also failed to avert the exclusion of allegedly 3 000 poor students this year.
VUT is one of the institutions troubled by the National Student Financial Aid Funding Scheme (NSFAS) crisis. The shortage of NSFAS funds at the institution sparked student protests last month, which the EFF campus members dominated.
EFF victory will bring radical change
Nyiko Progress Mpangane, secretary of the EFFSC on campus, has told the Mail & Guardian their victory ushers radical change to how the SRC will represent students to management.
“Our victory is victory for the students. They will now have a voice that will take their demands and concerns to management,” said Mpangane.
“Our main goal is to restore student governance to enable it to hold management accountable. VUT will have better direction than previously.”
Mpangane’s comments echoed what EFF leader Julius Malema had told VUT students at a campaign rally on Tuesday. Addressing more than 3 000 students, Malema said an SRC led by EFF students would seek accountability from university management in the same fashion as the party’s parliamentarians.
“We do not sleep with management, neither are we scared of management. And every management [of universities] knows that when the EFF comes, they will have to listen. In the same way here at VUT, when we take over she [university vice-chancellor Irene Moutlana] will have to listen. Otherwise she will never enjoy her stay here at VUT.
“We will make her stay here a nightmare. The same way we’ve made Parliament a nightmare for Jacob Zuma, we will make this place a nightmare for anyone who’s not prepared to listen to the demands of the students.”
VUT becomes a second university in which the EFFSC toppled Sasco in SRC elections. The new student is also in power at the University of Limpopo.
But Sasco remains the biggest student body in South Africa, controlling SRCs of majority institutions.
Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, spokesperson of the EFF, said their VUT victory is “yet another proof that the agenda of economic freedom in our lifetime is fast winning the hearts and minds of our people”.
“It is an indication of an inevitable future, that EFF will win all of South Africa very soon. It is a sign that the there is life outside the ANC, and that EFF has become a home of those who seek a better future with economic justice.
“It is a proof that EFF will be government, from these campuses to local government, and right up to the union buildings in Pretoria.”