The President and Vice-President of the Rhodes SRC have resigned, just two days into the 2016 academic year.
Despite delivering a rousing welcome speech to first years just last week, President Sisesakhe Ntlabezo has stepped down citing personal reasons. “Since December last year I was made aware of variety (sic) of personal and financial difficulties which have been gradually causing significant strain on my family,” Ntlabezo said in a statement. “My personal circumstances bound me to this decision,” he added.
These resignations come after instability and a wave of high-profile resignations within the SRC last year. Grace Moyo, originally voted in as Vice President for the 2015 year never assumed her post fully due to personal reasons. Abigail Butcher, the Secretary General resigned soon after. Tessa Ware replaced Moyo in a council reshuffle and resigned due to health reasons near the end of the year. Sinokuhle Klaas also resigned as Residence Councillor. However, most controversial was the resignation of 2015 President Siyanda Makhubo. Makhubo resigned in August last year due to a controversial tweet which ignited backlash on the Rhodes SRC Facebook page.
The student body have again taken to the SRC Facebook page to question the latest resignations. Shortly after Media Councillor Tuletu Nelani announced the resignations on the page, many questioned the timing.
“Siya Morena Nyulu I said this last year and its like I knew such things would happen. SRC MUST FALL. Who would ever want to run for SRC when president and vice president resign on the same day? Hayi unyanisile Ayanda Mredlana nkokheli. My heart is sorry for those who will ever run for SRC at Rhodes university, there is s*** going down in those offices that we are not told about. 2 days already you resigned. unsure emoticon Hayini guys ininzi into eyenzeka kula office. Worry yam is that sizopatwa ngu Gift ngoku. Esingam votelanga ke pof as president.” (sourced from Facebook)
Ntlabezo was careful to try to avert attention away from the SRC itself through in his resignation stating “for any trouble I may have caused, I offer my full and unreserved apologies. This is not a reflection on the SRC as an institution.”
The resignations of both Ntlabezo and Vice-President Ligwa Dlomo were accepted at a council meeting on Monday February 15. The minutes of that meeting are now being requested by students. Dlomo also sighted personal reasons for his resignation but is yet to release a statement.
The current administration is to be reshuffled to fill the voids left by Ntlabezo and Dlomo. Mlondolozi Gift Sandi will assume the role of President while Zweli Thabiso Hlatshwayo becomes Vice- President. Other shifts include Happyness Raselabe to Secretary General, Naledi Refilwe Mashishi and Hope Mashozhera becoming Executive members and Onela Xhantilomzi Nongubo moves to Student Benefits. The posts of Environment and Residence Councillor are currently vacant and will open for nominations on February 17 in a by-election.
The 2016 SRC has had a shaky start. Soon after their election at the end of last year the #Feesmustfall movement protests collaborated to participate in the #nationalshutdown and many were not happy with the new SRC’s mediation efforts between students and management. Further, this year the popular but sometimes controversial Great Field party, a traditional welcome party hosted by the SRC, has been postponed as tender requirements for a commercial partner for the event were not met.
With great speculation into how the SRC make decisions and constitute high-profile resignations, the saga of power shuffles in the institution look to continue this year.
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Words by Julia Fish