SRC reassignment: was it constitutional?

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By Tessa Knight

This article can also be found in the print Edition 2 of VARSITY Newspaper.

 

VARSITY investigates the constitutionality of last week’s reassignment of the SRC. 

Image by Michaela Pillay

Timeline of Recent SRC interactions

08/03: SRC funds are frozen

14/03: Student Parliament (SP), where Christopher Logan (DASO) puts forward a motion to reassign SRC portfolios. Motion becomes a recommendation. 

19/03: Loyola Nyathi (EFF) is inducted into the SRC as the 15th member, and the SRC Weekly Standing Meeting takes place. A reassignment occurs amongst debates of constitutionality.

20/03: At 00:48am Karabo Khakhau (DASO) sends an email to all students as President of the SRC stating that the reassignment was unconstitutional. The Constitutional Committee (CC) respond to an inquiry made by Christopher Logan regarding the 5 vacant SP positions, concluding that SP consists of 78 members not 83. The original vote to reassign becomes a binding motion.

21/03: An email is sent by Karabo Khakhau as President of the SRC claiming that an appeal has been sent to the CC and the reshuffle will be held in abeyance pending the conclusion.

22/03: An email is sent by Student Governance Council (SGC) claiming the reassignment will be held in abeyance. Follow-up email, sent later that day, amends the previous email, stating that the reassignmnet will not be held in abeyance.

23/03: A complaint is lodged by the DASO caucus, excluding Logan and Mthobisi Mngomezulu (DASO), against the rest of the SRC claiming incorrect procedures took place during the reassignment. SGC sends official notice of hearing.

 

Last week, the SRC underwent a major portfolio reassignment amidst allegations of unconstitutional procedures. Since the resignation of the Treasurer General (TG), members of the SRC executive were signatories of the account. On the 8th of March, SRC funds were frozen.

 

On the 14th of March at the First Ordinary Sitting of SP, Logan, in his capacity as the Undergraduate Academic Co-ordinator, tabled a motion for the reassignment of the SRC portfolios within the next 72 hours. According to Logan, “the SRC was paralysed by incompetence.” Logan cited the lack of TG and frozen funds as evidence that the SRC was not able to function with the current executive.

 

At SP, 54 members voted for the motion, 10 voted against and there were no abstentions (14 members were absent). This did not constitute a two-thirds majority; and therefore not binding to the SRC.

 

Before the SRC Weekly Standing Meeting on Monday, 19th March, Nyathi was inducted into the SRC, filling the position left vacant by TG, Johansson. The SRC would not have been able to reassign if there were not 15 members present.

 

At the Weekly Standing Meeting, the majority of the 15 members present voted to accept the recommendation to reassign SRC portfolios. Chapters 6 and 12 of the SRC constitution were cited to impede a reassignmnet. Members of DASO allegedly stated that it would be best to seek clarity and then reconvene. A debate ensued over Chapter 12 until the Chair of the House decided that the matter would be decided via secret ballot. Nine voted that the Chapter was not relevant and six voted that is was. Proceedings then continued despite persistent requests from DASO members to postpone.

 

During the reassignment process, Khakhau was nominated for president, but she declined. Logan then nominated Mngomezulu for President. Without another nomination, Mngomezulu was elected. According to a now-deleted Facebook post on the SRC page, the following reassigned executive was:

 

President: Mthobisi Mngomezulu (formerly Karabo Khakhau)

Vice-President: Masixole Mlandu (PASMA) (formerly Hannah Margetts (DASO))

Secretary-General: Zukiswa Jack (EFF) (formerly Tami Jackson (DASO))

Deputy Secretary-General: Loyola Nyathi (formerly Dylan-James Greenstone (DASO))

Treasurer-General: Christopher Logan (formally vacant)

 

The remaining DASO members were not allocated portfolios as they declined to participate. In response to the reassingment, Khakhau sent an email on Tuesday 20th March (00:48am) claiming that the reassignment was unconstitutional.

 

Later that day the CC responded to a query made by Logan regarding the 5 vacant positions in SP and whether it affected his motion. In response, the CC ruled that the vacant positions meant that SP consisted of 78 members and this made Logan’s motion binding.

 

On Wednesday 21st, Khakhau sent an email to the student body claiming an appeal had been sent to the CC and the reassignment would be held in abeyance in the interim. The SGC echoed this in an email sent on Thursday 22nd, but retracted the statement on Twitter, saying the matter would not be held in abeyance.

 

On Friday 23rd, the SGC sent an official notice of hearing to Logan, Mngomezulu and other non-DASO affiliated SRC members regarding a complaint about the procedure followed during the reassignment. The hearing will take place tomorrow.

 

VARSITY reached out to the DSA to verify the constitutionality of the reshuffle. The DSA had not yet received the official minutes and thus could not respond. At the time of printing, DASO members (excluding Logan and Mngomezulu) maintain the reassignment was not constitutional.

 

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1 thought on “SRC reassignment: was it constitutional?

  1. Keenan Hendrickse Reply

    As one of the people who wrote the new SRC Constitution in 2013 and 2016 I can say without a doubt that this process was procedurally flawed and unconstitutional.

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