During Wits 2017/18 SRC election period, over 80 members of both the Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) and the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) covertly engaged in a clandestine conspiracy and deception of voting for their friends and influencing students to vote for PYA.
The Open Journal Investigative Unit independently verified the authenticity of the leaked WhatsApp messages of a group called ‘PYA Mobilisation Committee’.
Meanwhile others are questioning the authenticity of the messages, Justice Mokotedi of the National Committee of the ANCYL, who was part of the group, admitted to The Open Journal that the group was functioning. But, “When those things (messages) spiralled out, I was shocked . . . Please do not quote me. But PYA is not rigging the elections and our duty was to support them with food.”
One of the active persons in the WhatsApp group proposed for the continuation of a certain strategy. “I suggest we continue with that indirect strategy of sending people to pretend like helpers of students in the labs,” said an individual named Siyanda Mngandi.
Wits’ charismatic FeesMustFall leader and former SRC Secretary-General, Fesiha Hassan, appears in two of the videos at the Wits computer labs wearing non-partisan clothes – seemingly and connivingly assisting students to “vote correctly” like the Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula said.
Even a UJ-APK SASCO member, Lesedi Diseko participated in this campaign to put flyers in her accommodation. “Can someone bring me the flyers [at around 6 or 7] I will slide them under doors,” she wrote in the group.
These members targeted student accommodations where Wits students are residing to make them vote through the gadgets that the members of the PYA Mobilisation Committee were carrying.
Risuna Malukeh, a member of the WhatsApp group, responded using these words when the Investigative Unit asked for the purpose of those gadgets: “It is not important for me to tell you what the gadgets are for.”
In the accommodations where there is no Wi-Fi for the tenants to vote, one of the steering wheel of the group, Katlego Baloyi (Stompie) advised them to: “Collect details mchana.”
An individual identified as Lwazi or Jubes said that PYA members must go to different classes and tutorials before the session commences to influence the students to vote.
“You go in there [and] ask how the campaign is going; [you] tell them to vote quickly before the lecture starts,” wrote Lwazi.
Some of the Wits EFFSC and Independent candidates say such illicit activities beg for one to wonder as to what cost did the three PYA’s candidates managed to secure the three outstanding seats of the SRC.