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UFS withdraws interdict against SASCO and ANCYL
2003-11-25

The Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, Prof Frederick Fourie, announced today that a court order against the South African Students Congress (SASCO) and the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) had been withdrawn.

The withdrawal of the court order follows after a written statement by SASCO and the ANCYL in which they “unconditionally withdraw or retract statements threatening to render the institution ungovernable” and give their “commitment not to proceed with our threats to establish our own democratic SRC and occupy the current SRC offices”.

The UFS management obtained the court order in October after SASCO and the ANCYL refused to accept the outcome of the recent student referendum and SRC elections and threatened to disrupt the campus.

Prof Fourie also welcomed the undertaking by SASCO and the ANCYL to act in accordance with the prescribed procedures to resolve any grievance that the organisations may have, saying the UFS management remains committed to a constructive dialogue with all student organisations to manage a campus of diversity, tolerance and non-racialism.

In September students voted in a referendum to test support for a system of proportional representation (PR) for the SRC. A vast majority of students voted against the PR system, a system favoured by SASCO and the ANCYL..

Following allegations of fraud in the referendum, the UFS management asked the auditing firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers to conduct an independent audit of the ballot papers.

The auditors found that a total of 180 ballot papers out of 3513 – only 5.12% - of the votes cast - appeared to have been altered by means of erasing and then changing the student number.

According to the auditors, with all potentially altered and suspicious ballot papers excluded, a huge majority of 60,8% of students voted against the proportional representation system.

A few days after the referendum, the actual SRC election was held. However, at no stage were there any complaints from any organization about the integrity of the SRC election itself.

Despite this and the findings of the auditors, SASCO and the ANCYL refused to accept the outcome.

Law student Quintin du Plessis was elected SRC president. He welcomed the stance taken by SASCO and the ANCYL to pursue their objectives through the existing structures and said the SRC was always willing to engage with these organisations on issues of student governance.

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