The University has a new Student Representative Council (SRC). The inauguration of the new SRC took place on 15 December 2020. The inauguration gave the incoming SRC an opportunity to meet the University Management. It was also time for the University leadership to also hear what the new SRC was bringing on board as part of student leadership. The new SRC is expected to play a big role in how the University deals with the Covid-19 challenge.
Addressing the new SRC, Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Marcus Ramogale gave the student leaders a lecture on leadership and politics. “It does not matter if the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice,” Professor Ramogale quoted Deng Xiaoping, a Chinese leader from 1978 to 1997. The gist of Professor Ramogale’s lecture was that ideology did not ensure success. What results in success is adjusting to the prevailing circumstances. The ‘Third Way’ which Professor Ramogale said has been advocated by Deng and some other influential leaders like President Thabo Mbeki and President Bill Clinton of the United States, was a result of the understanding of the prevailing circumstances, and making the necessary adjustments. Professor Ramogale impressed upon the student leaders that it was knowledge that matters, not slogans.
The new SRC President, Mthokozisi Gumede, an Advanced Diploma in Office Technology and Management student, said from the Acting Vice-Chancellor’s lecture he learnt that what was important was to use an idea that would work, and not be confined with ideology. What matters is the idea that brings results, Mthokozisi said.
Delivering his inaugural speech, Mthokozisi called for unity for all the structures that would be part of the University, one way or the other, during their tenure. “Let me call upon all political structures, clubs, societies and forums to put aside all their differences, ideological insinuations and forge unity towards transforming MUT into an institution that is seen playing a vigilant role in developing students academically, politically, socially, religiously and culturally.” Mthokozisi said the unity that he was calling for was going to ensure that they would work as a collective even though they were coming from different backgrounds. This is one of the lessons he learnt from the Acting Vice-Chancellor’s lecture.
Mthokozisi assured everyone that they are going to put the students at the centre of everything they would do. He said they would indeed work together regardless of political affiliations and where they come from because their responsibility is to serve the interests of students. “We shall be students’ servants until the end of our term of office. Our cell phone numbers will always be made available to every student; you must never hesitate to call us at any given day or time,” he said. Out of the 11 portfolios, the EFF Student Command, from which Mthokozisi comes, has five, SASCO has four. The remaining portfolios are independent.
Mthokozisi also added that they were going to carry out what they had promised the students when they were campaigning. “As from today, we want data for all registered students because online classes are continuing. Also, we want to use the SRC budget to register unfunded students; we want to host graduation ceremonies for our students; we want the Amnesty day to be open,” he said, adding that they would not accept fee increment for the 2021 academic year. “We demand the 24/7 operating library, and that all advanced diploma students be funded, and that all cash paying students be considered when releasing fee concessions before we are told about fee increments,” he said.
The 2021 SRC will also be remembered for having Mbali Ntshingila as a Secretary General, a continuation of trend that resumed last year after more than 10 years of under-representation of female students in the SRC. Also to be noted is that Mbali is one of the four female students in the SRC.
Mbali acknowledged that Professor Ramogale “gave us food for thought.” In terms of the Acting Vice-Chancellor’s speech, leaders are not supposed to be self-absorbed, she said. Mbali said that being in a student leadership position was not a chance for them to enrich themselves. She highlighted that they needed to do what would benefit the whole of the University, not just the students. Mbali added that they would run a strong Gender-based Violence programme, and that she was going to be directly responsible for it. Mbali herself was once victimised because of her gender. She is also aware of some gender-related incidences that have happened at the University. She reported these to the responsible authorities. Mbali warned that as much as GBV has always been associated with women victimisation, some men have been also been victimised by women.
The other female student leaders are Minenhle Shabalala (Faculties Officer), Dlamini Khalipha (Residence Liaison Offier), and Sarah Ndamase (Health and Social Welfare Officer).