By Ila Alberts
It is election season and campus is buzzing. The Students’ Representative Council (SRC) elections will take place between 8 and 12 August. 15 candidates have put themselves forward for the council and made it through the academic screening process. Candidates will partake in seven rigorous caucuses, the first of which took place on Thursday 4 August. Caucuses take place in person in the VV Hall in the Neelsie from 18:00 to 20:00, according to this year’s Electoral Commission on their Instagram account (@maties_elections).
Viwe Kobokana, the outgoing SRC chairperson, said, “I think it is always a concern when few people avail themselves for leadership positions, particularly [for the] SRC. It is always nice to see a bigger group, as it means there is more competition and proper filtering of candidates.”
Kobokana said that she thinks the biggest challenge that the new SRC will face will be “ensuring sustainability”. “This year, we tried to institutionalise a lot of our work so that there is continuity, but also one year is not a lot of time, so we had to ensure we lay foundations for most of the important matters,” she explained.
Chris Briel, the outgoing SRC wellness officer, decided to run for office again. He explained that he believes his experience on the SRC will stand him in good stead.
“It is an absolute joy of mine to be able to serve students and a gift that the Lord gave me . . .,” Briel said.
He said that what he has learnt from his previous experience at SRC caucuses is that you “should not be afraid of what you stand for”.
According to his campaign, he wants to “rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep”.
When asked about what he means by this, he clarified that he aims to have compassion and empathy with those who experience different types of suffering on campus.
Unlike Briel, Banzi Bottoman, a second-year LLB student, is running for office for the first time but mentioned that he has “worked in social justice and philanthropy with various companies throughout the years”. He also has previous leadership experience and is an “established student activist”.
Bottoman is running for chairperson and describes his mandate as “institutional” and “based in policies” that he feels “still need [a few tweaks] here and there.”
Kobokana encouraged students to vote and said, “It all boils down to active citizenship. As people say in national elections, if you do not vote you cannot complain. There are rights and responsibilities: everyone has rights afforded to them by the Bill of Student Rights in the Student Constitution, but it is our responsibility as students to engage in elections and vote. Your leaders represent you whether you like it or not.”
Bottoman added, “People who are not voting for the SRC need to understand that they cannot hold us accountable because they do not vote for us. Every single year less than 5 000 people vote out of [approximately] 29 000 students. So, I am imploring them to actually vote so that they can hold us accountable for whatever we said we’d do but couldn’t do.”