Maboni Mmatli | 10 October 2017
Student politics are a major contributor to the livelihood of many students in institutions of higher learning and training. Such is no different with and in the Nelson Mandela University. For too long, student politics and Student Representative Council (SRC) elections were the playground of student political parties and in the Nelson Mandela University, the Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) – student wing of the Democratic Alliance -, South African Students Congress (SASCO) – affiliated to and with the African National Congress (in what SASCO calls a “complementary and contradictory symbiotic relationship” ) have been alternating victory and subsequent governance.
In 2014, the environment saw the introduction of the Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC) – student wing of Julius Malema’s EFF and the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (PASMA). The said introduction offered students with a range of diverse choices but the pattern continued – DASO won. In 2015, PASMA found itself not on the ballot and only DASO, SASCO and EFFSC contested – to which DASO won and governed in 2016. Due to the #FeesMustFall protest action of 2016, the institution failed to host elections and saw an interim administrative structure govern the 2017 academic year.
The institution will, after almost two years, be going to the ballot on Wednesday the 18th of October. The twist is that there is a new kid on the block in the form of a non-political but academic society of young scientists going by the name “Science Students’ Association” (Sci-SA). After noticing that very little in terms of vibrancy and student livelihood was happening in the Science Faculty, Sci-SA was formed in 2014 and came to effect in 2015 and in its three years of existence served its members exceptionally. Some of the service delivery include but not limited to colloquia, study nights (where a safe study environment is provided overnight for students during exams and coffee and other refreshments are served to those attending and transport to take them home in the morning). This resulted in the members proposing that the society contest the Faculty of Science Representative position in the SRC. To quote Charles De Gaulle, “Politics is too serious a matter to be left to politicians”. As such, Sci-SA says, “Let A Science Student Do it Right”. This is a historical moment for the Nelson Mandela University as Sci-SA becomes the first ever academic society to contest SRC elections in the institution.
Sci-SA nominated the current Chairperson Sub-committee member, former Vice-Chairperson, former South Point House Committee member, Science For Ubuntu advocate, etc. as their preferred candidate to lead them right and well in the 2018 academic year.