UCT is at the centre of a political mudslinging match after seven DA candidates were stripped of their seats on the 2013 Student Representative Council, following complaints of campaign irregularities.
The DA Student Organisation (Daso) secured seven seats in the elections held earlier this year. Seven independent candidates also won seats, and the SA Student Council (Sasco) won three.
But following the elections, complaints were laid about the Daso campaign.
On Thursday the incumbent SRC ruled that the seven Daso candidates should be stripped of their seats. But Daso said yesterday it would appeal against the decision because it was “politically motivated” and “procedurally flawed”.
Daso’s campaign, which cost double the allocated budget, included free candyfloss and hot chocolate, visits to campus by DA leaders such as Lindiwe Mazibuko, and the use of iPads and laptops to allow people to vote on the spot.
Complaints were laid that the organisation had broken the rules by exceeding its budget, and that the visits of the senior DA officials had not been declared in the group’s campaign plans.
The use of campaigners’ personal laptops and iPads to allow voters to vote using the online system was also irregular.
An investigation was conducted by the UCT elections committee earlier this month, after which more than 2 000 of the electronic votes were disqualified, and Daso was ordered to pay back the money it overspent on its campaign.
The campaign budget was R6 600, but Daso spent R13 745.71.
This ruling was then appealed against by other parties, which said the punishment was too lenient.
The appeal was conducted by the current SRC, which on Thursday upheld the earlier guilty rulings on the use of laptops and iPads, as well as the non-declaration of campaign plans.
In a statement released on Thursday, the SRC said Daso had “grossly” overspent its budget, then tried to cover this up by submitting “fraudulent” accounting costs to the elections committee.
Claims that Daso had intimidated students into voting, and that mass marketing had been done by a non-student, were not upheld due to insufficient evidence.
The SRC ruled that the seven must lose their seats.
Daso had until yesterday to appeal to UCT vice-chancellor Max Price.
The organisation said it was appealing: “Sasco lost badly, only managing to get three candidates elected. We believe that the Sasco-dominated SRC’s decision was nothing more than an attempt to secure Sasco’s continued control of the SRC, even though they lost the election.”
Sasco general secretary for the Western Cape, Monwabisi Luthuli, said the results of the investigation showed that the party did not have the “purity” it claimed.
“We hope that the party will not now intimidate vice-chancellor Max Price, because then UCT will become a battle zone of politics in the Western Cape,” he added.
The ANC’s Marius Fransman, who earlier in the week released a statement damning the practices of Daso during the election, said he was pleased that the seven had lost their seats.
“It’s clear that the DA meddled on campus, and they must come clean now with a public apology and retraction.”
Earlier in the week, an organisation calling itself the Friends of Democratic Fair Elections released a statement on the issue.
It said: “We want a fair SRC election process not interfered with by elders who are not students, like that political witch [Helen] Zille and her fat suitcase Lindiwe Mazibuko.”