Stellenbosch University’s Student Representative Council (SRC) has not yet released its budget for 2017. This is despite the SRC having been elected on 21 February 2017, and the fast approaching end of the first semester.
Asked whether the budget would be made available soon, SRC treasurer, Nwabisa Ngcilitshana, responded on 15 May: “It should be up [online] by Wednesday [17 May] latest. It really is a fault on our part because as soon as we finalised our budget we all started working.
“We had planned to have an open meeting session where people could view and ask questions about it. Unfortunately that had to be postponed to next semester as we were already approaching two weeks before exams, in which case we are not allowed to do/host anything in that period.”
On 16 May, Ngcilitshana responded to further requests for the budget and questions about whether the budget would still be released on Wednesday: “There is a report being compiled to go with it… I’ll confirm.”
Due to court cases against members of Afriforum following their campaigning for SRC in 2016, the elections could not take place in August. This is why the current SRC has only been in power since February.
“We were pressed for time and had to learn as soon as possible,” says Liana Letabo Maheso, the current Secretary General of the SRC.
While she campaigned for the position of Safety SRC, a spot that used to be a permanent position, she decided that she would not best serve campus in that position.
“At this point the portfolio is structured too rigidly around what safety means, and as such the many broader safety objectives which I wanted to establish would be undermined had I taken up the position,” she continued.
Maheso said: “I have not given up on my commitment to let safety lead and I commit to addressing any safety and security issues, in collaboration with the Manager of the Safety Portfolio, with the RMT.”
James de Villiers, the previous Vice Chairperson of the 2016 SRC, said that he thinks “the structure of the SRC is fundamentally unproductive. It takes four months for someone to get to grips with the admin requirements itself before any real change can be achieved with zero assistance from the university.
“The university expects the SRC to act like a department, and the constitution gives the SRC such a rigid structure that it is sometimes impossible to change in a rapid changing environment,” he continues.
This rigidity and short timespan seem to have constricted the 2017 SRC, and it seems doubtful that they will have achieved their full potential by the next elections in August. – Andy Kohrs and Dalaine Krige