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#RUGrazzle17: Everything You Need To Know

Kim Burrell 

With the Barratt lecture theatre filled way over capacity and the crowd singing, the Grazzle of 2017 began. Each candidate was allocated four minutes to make their presentations and told they may only answer two questions each. The crowd disagreed with the number of questions and demanded five, so a compromise was reached and four questions was agreed upon. The speeches took place according to the portfolio alphabetically, with the uncontested portfolios first and the contested ones afterwards. The secretary general and treasurer have been moved to the presidential debates.

Siyabonga Malaza, running for Academic Councillor was the first to speak. Malaza presented his aims to the students by means of a three-point platform. His first aim is to strengthen the first year support programmes. Secondly, he aims to establish hall libraries and lastly, he aims to tackle stress through a stress management program.

The next candidate was Phumelele Nkomozake for Activism and Transformation Councillor. Nkomozake presented six projects to the student body, which included the problematic gender and sex issues in UCKAR, such as the bathrooms, residences, the counselling centre, the SNA clinic and the application forms. Furthermore, were the projects against student fees, disability, transformation of the curriculum, language, ethnicity and race and proposed that orientation week talks about all these issues. “Rhodes claims to be a university for all, but my experiences as a black Xhosa trans-womxn do not support this. We need all those voice to be heard,” said Nkomozake.

A student then voiced their concern about the legitimacy of these projects actually taken place, as they have been raised before but never been implemented. Nkomozake replied that the previous programmes have not worked because the people in charge of them did not fully understand the struggles, whereas Nkomozake argued that she has lived most of the experiences and understands intersectionality.

Following Nkomozake was Khaka Mpofu for Sports and Societies Councillor who had considerable support from the crowd. Mpofu’s platform was the crisis in sports and societies. Mpofu’s aims following this was to raise funds through collaborating with the projects and student benefits councilor to raise funds, hold events for fundraising. Moreover, he aims to push for recognition of the sports and societies that are marginalised, hold societies accountable for their activities and create a sustainable pad drive campaign. “The one thing that stood out for me is disability, disabled students pay three times more fees,” says Mpofu.

The next Sports and Societies candidate was Tobì Dodo, who started by saying “my reason for running is to ensure that there is accountability, transparency and effective communication between the SRC, sports admin and the student body.” His concerns consisted of the students attitudes towards sports and how they are not taken seriously, the societies sticking to their promises with regards to the events and funding available.

“If everyone is moving forward, success will take care of itself,” says Dodo. A student then asked what Dodo’s stance is towards students with disabilities, which he then replied that he promises to change the fact that there are no sports for disabled people and will create inclusive sports for them.

The final Sports and Societies candidate was Naledi Dlulisa, who said, “I will bring in my developing, driving and communicating skills to be an effective councillor.” In order to do this, she proposed the following aims; having semester reports, sports scholarships, #BasicEquipmentForAll to help clubs offer participants the necessities, society workshops, introducing extra work out activities and to intercommunicate with the other SRC societies and sports clubs. She went on to say that her biggest message was, “transparency, making students aware of what is going on and possible rewards as well as introducing benefits as incentives for the students participation and hard work.

There were two candidates running for Community Engagement Councillors, namely; Mbasa Ngcoza and Unathi Mabukane. Mabukane’s stance was to integrate Grahamstown, where he has grown up, with Rhodes University in order to “embody core values of hard work, teamwork and valuing the collective,” says Mabukane. She believes that through increased interaction between the Grahamstown community and the student body as well as creating combined efforts which will be beneficial to all and finally “building civic responsibility.” The question of dealing with decolonisation was raised by a student, to which Mabukane replied, “To drive transformation, we need to go into the community and educate people to break rigid forms of thinking.”

The second candidate was Mbasa Ngcoza, who believes that his personality is perfect for the position, “I know when to lead and when to be led,” says Ngoza. He aims to maintain the community engagement that UCKAR has  already and maximise the time and participation of students in the community. Moreover, he plans to break the language barrier  to encourage transformation by implementing basic isiXhosa lessons for the volunteers which will be taught by high school learners.

Additionally, there are the Environmental candidates. The first candidate was Sihle Mkhize, who believes that, “the university’s attitude has a direct impact on whether the space is conducive to learning.” He then promised that he will do all he can to “hold the university accountable on its implementation of the environmental policy.” In order to do this, he proposes that students, societies and faculties become more involved in the environmental issues of Grahamstown.

A student then asked Mkhize what he plans to do in order to mitigate threats to the water supply within Grahamstown and UCKAR. Mkhize replied, “the university has policies already, but they’re not really doing everything it can to make sure the policies can be effective. Right now they are building new residences, but not making sure there are systems that will save us water.”

The second candidate was Luthando Dayimani who had a lot of support from the crowd. Dayimani stated that he wants to find  “find creative and alternative ways of using litter and turning it into recyclable items. I also want to create reading corners and adopt a park to make it into an idyllic space for community members. The ultimate goal is to establish a park in Vukani Township. Also revamping sections of bot gardens, bring art to Bots and the park in Oatlands – Art in the Park.”

These projects quickly backfired with a student’s question, “we are currently facing a water situation. And yet you want to create a park. How are you mitigating the water required?” Dayimani responded with, “it’s been a problem for thirty years, I can’t solve a problem in thirty years.”

Moreover, are the candidates for international affairs. Nadia Engelbrecht is one of the two candidates who ran for councillor. Engelbrecht started by saying, that she will not make promises she cannot keep and that “I stand to promote progressive relations between all peoples across the globe and within the university, especially in an age of conflict.” She then went on to say that she wants to implement fair and equal treatment of everybody and to further have justice for the victims of xenophobia.

Engelbrecht wants not only to represent the international students but also to “encourage foreign countries taking South African students on exchange – particularly within African countries.” Her projects also include fundraising so that South African students will be able to go on exchange for free as well as introducing a “biometric visa system at Rhodes do avoid the burden of having to go to PE to renew visas.” The first question from a student was how Engelbrecht intends on raising these funds, to which Engelbrecht replied, “I will first look into where the money is going – money reserved for international students. I will be looking into making use of events to fundraise, where people are so generous and there is much to be gained.”

The second candidate was Austin Ndyetabula, who believes in Pan-Africanism and his aim is to culturally integrate the university and “ensure cohesion between locals and internationals.” Furthermore, he states that he does not understand why one would wait for the problems to arise before tackling them. On top of this, Ndyetabula wants to review the fees policy, “educating international students on their rights and duties living in South Africa” as well as reviewing funding. “We need to know about different issues for all, with varying cultures integrated to negate antagonism,” say Ndyetabula.

A student then proposed the question on how he plans on dealing with decolonisation. Ndyetabula replied, “I uphold the beliefs of Pan-Africanism. Colonialism made us believe we are different, I believe we can come to a point where we see there is no difference between us. It is hard for there to be animosity when we know each other.”

Finally, there were the media candidates; Asephelele Shabalala and Phumla Myeni. Asephelele Shabalala started off by telling the crowd that, “I will prioritise the swift dissemination of information in regards to the actions of the SRC, and make it accessible to the student body by making it possible to interact with the media portfolio on any relevant platform.”

In order for this to be possible, Shabalala says that he will work on the relationships between the media councillor and the media houses and increase the resources that are available to the media officer. I bring fresh ideas, a willing ear and a different perspective. I will ensure that the SRC leads by example by making sure all communications are disseminated in English and isiXhosa,” Shabalala states.

The next candidate was Phumla Myeni, who stated that she too believes effective communication between the SRC and student body is important.” However, the crowd was disruptive of the rest of her presentation and questions.

Follow @activateonline on Twitter for more updates. 

*Due to technical issues, Activate was unable to cover the remaining minutes of the Grazzle. This article will be updated as soon as the information becomes available.

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