Wits student leader Mcebo Dlamini has accused the university’s vice chancellor Adam Habib of lying about the reasons why Dlamini was removed from office.
Speaking at a student protest on campus on Monday, Dlamini said: “If I was a white student, I wouldn’t have been charged… If apartheid doesn’t exist in South Africa, it exists in Wits. Wits undermines everything that is black.”
Dlamini, who was removed from his position as president of the Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) following disciplinary procedures concerning assault charges dating to last year, said he had called on the Legal Office for a public review and hearing of his charges on Friday.
Dlamini said the protest was “not about one man, but about an African child” and that Wits was fundamentally “a racist institution”.
Members of the Wits Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) have dug their heels in and expressed continued support for the controversial former president.
On Monday, several dozen students marched through the university’s Great Hall to Senate House, where the vice-chancellor, Adam Habib has his office, and handed over a memorandum to the dean of students. Their demands include the reinstatement of Dlamini as SRC president, the rehiring of the workers contracted by Wits service provider MJL Electrical, an end to the outsourcing of labour on campus, and a call for students to be consulted when policies that affect them are created.
The march was geared towards highlighting issues concerning workers’ rights, service delivery, transformation progress and what the PYA-aligned students described as student victimisation and “he misguided influence of management’s power”. The students sang struggle songs, danced and carried placards reading “HabibMustGo”.
Addressing the protestors, the leaders of the South African Students Congress (Sasco) and Young Communist League (YCL) – both of which form part of the PYA – threw their weight behind Dlamini, calling for him to be re-instated, and asked why Habib has the right to remove a democratically elected student leader and why his decision was only put into effect now?