Written by: ASFL-UCT Executive
The African Students For Liberty (ASFL) – UCT condemns the looting of public coffers by the UCT SRC to fund a political project including an all-expenses paid trip to Johannesburg for 4 members of the UCT SRC (namely Christopher Logan, Sihle Lonzi, Athabile Nonxuba, and Masixole Mlandu). This trip alone is estimated to cost more than thirty thousand rands.
This trip is part of a national project to have all cases against students involved in #FeesMustFall withdrawn. In the SRC’s own words the trip is to “engage SRC members from universities across the country on the call to drop all charges…”. This shows that the sole purpose of this political project is to pressure the government to drop charges against Fees Must Fall participants. How the SRC engaged student support for such a political project is not explained by the SRC.
This misuse of public funds is yet one more incident of student fees being redirected away from education delivery and is another example of the UCT SRC not working in the students’ interests and instead playing politics.
Student fees contribute towards paying for many expenses within the university. They pay for academic and administrative staff salaries, journal subscriptions, repairs and maintenance of university property, along with all the other overheads the university incurs in the course of business. What is not acceptable is for student fees to go towards funding political projects.
What is ironic is that the members implicated in this scandal are the supposed defenders of poor and working class students. It is ironic because the very individuals that claim to want an end to financial burdens on students are putting additional financial burdens on students.
By putting political projects on the university’s budget, the university passes on these costs on to students who ultimately pay for these unnecessary projects. It is morally reprehensible for students who wish to receive an education at UCT are forced to finance these escapades by the SRC.
If these SRC members are serious about reducing the bill students are forced to pay for university, they should look to cut unnecessary costs from the university’s budget. While some costs cannot be eliminated altogether, others can be eliminated entirely. A good place to start in reducing student fees is to stop forcing students to pay for political projects!
For us, the only morally acceptable way for the SRC to pay for such a project, is to ask students to voluntarily donate money towards a “political vanity” fund from which such projects can be paid. Thus students who do not support such projects are not forced to pay for them, and the SRC can rest easy knowing that the projects which do not benefit students are funded by students who willingly fund them.
By coercing students to pay for this scheme, this holiday to Johannesburg is nothing more than a slap in the face of all students at UCT, who are forced to finance such wasteful spending by the SRC. This is especially true for students who are unable to pay for items such as food, textbooks, hygiene products and university fees – the very students this SRC claims to be fighting for.
We call on the SRC to do the following:
1. Investigate the processes that resulted in the approval of such a trip and the approval of all expenditure involved, and publish the findings of the investigation.
2. The individual SRC members who have gone on this trip personally repay the SRC all amounts spent on this trip by the SRC.
3. Make announcements when SRC meetings are held and allow ordinary students to observe all meetings.
4. Publish all SRC meeting minutes on a Vula site that is accessible to every UCT student.
5. Publish a comprehensive financial report on what the SRC has spent in their term in office. The report compiled by Christopher Logan is wholly inadequate in its level of detail and must be redone in greater detail with regards to the purpose of all expenditure incurred by the SRC.
6. Publish a detailed report on the daily activities of the 4 SRC members on this trip, and how these activities would directly benefit UCT students.
7. Publish a report showing the alternatives considered by the SRC to flying members to Johannesburg and their estimated costs.
8. Hold a referendum for students and faculty regarding whether the university supports Fees Must Fall and whether the university supports granting amnesty to everyone involved in the violent protests.
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