A Narrative on the Political Status Quo in NMU.

Mbasa Mvenene

M.A. Political Studies.

The 2020 academic year is one which is unique in contemporary history. The year commenced with the yearly Halloween characterized by student issues such as financial, academic and structural exclusion. Student political organizations and individuals made their individual efforts in rescuing those facing the previously mentioned. As a consequence of the architecture of former “white” universities a considerable number of former students are now cattle herders. In the interim however, the annual political culture of the university has been interrupted by the novel Coronavirus and the implications for general mobility, fraternization and cohesion. It not rocket-science that political socialization, organization and mobilization – and thus electioneering require rapid human interaction as a prerequisite for canvassing (political salesmanship).

Moving forward, the office of Student Governance and Development in consultation with the SRC and the University Council have indicated a strong possibility for holding SRC elections in the month of November or December 2020. The unpredictability of a “second wave” of the virus make it difficult to ascertain whether this will actually occur or not. The student populace faced with numerous challenges that still remain should apply pressure through their student political organizations for SRC elections to take place during the year 2020. Such elections would have to be online because of the status quo, proper strategies and mechanisms would have to be put in place by those responsible to facilitate the elections. This would mean that there would be several reforms regarding the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) and guidelines in the university during the period of electioneering and voting day/s.

Alternatively, should the above mentioned be an onerous task for the key role players concerned an interim SRC would be another route to take. In advancing the previous claim, the university had an interim SRC in the year 2017 wherein the student body experienced a very responsive and people-oriented SRC. The composition of an interim structure – which is equal representation of all student organizations in the SRC – creates a heightened level of political competency in a struggle to win the majority vote of students. What is needed in such desperate times, is the prioritization of students by ensuring that an option that is chosen for the foreseeable future revitalizes the fundamental tenets of democracy – accountability and representation. An interim SRC in my view would fulfil that task.

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