Earlier this week Wits SRC president Mcebo Dlamini was removed from his position, and his SRC membership terminated. This comes shortly after Dlamini’s controversial statements praising Hitler on Facebook – although Wits vice chancellor Adam Habib was clear this had no bearing on Dlamini’s dismissal. MUHAMMED ISMAIL BULBULIA asked Wits students what they make of the situation.
Nadeem Mahomed, bachelor of accounting science, honours
I think it was opportunistic. Legally, there’s nothing wrong with it, but we have to consider the reasons behind it and whether the removal fits the crime they consider Mcebo to have committed. I think that the recent events and comments definitely played a role in the decision, and they made Habib go back and follow up on the case that was pending – without Mcebo’s comments an agreement may have been made for him to continue in office.
Mcebo says what needs to be said and he can get people going I’m not too confident about his leadership abilities but he’s able to get crowd support. The issues that Mcebo raised are important, but I think he could have addressed those being president, and he didn’t have to create this whole “crisis” to bring them to the fore.
Hans Dladla, BA majoring in psychology and politics, first year
I think that the decision is unfair and biased. Yesterday Habib said that he made his decision three days before Mcebo made his comments on Facebook. So why didn’t he remove him then? Even though Habib says that the Hitler comments had nothing to do with the decision, why didn’t he release his statement then?
I think there’s a definite element of Habib being apologetic to Zionists with the decision. Mcebo is a fearless president: I like him because he speaks his mind and stands up for what he believes in. If the students still elected Mcebo as president even after they knew his history, they should have been the ones to decide if he should be removed.
Gaian Aukema, BA majoring in politics and African literature, first year
From what I understand, Mcebo was removed because of his charges and the disciplinary hearing – which I can’t really comment on because I don’t know much about it. I don’t think it’s right that Habib has the power to remove elected bodies from the SRC, because effectively that means he has power over separate student bodies that he should be accountable to. Mcebo isn’t a bad president, maybe he’s just a misguided one – some of the things he says could be seen to be problematic, but I like the fact that he stands up and says it.
The issues that he brought up about racism at Wits hold a lot of weight – that’s why we have movements like Transform Wits and other developments around the country where these subtle forms of racism and white supremacy are coming to light, and exposing that is what he’s partially doing.
Courtney Morgan, BA majoring in international relations, second year
The decision is very hypocritical because in the past Habib said to many students that he would allow ideologies that he didn’t agree with to be present at Wits, yet he was very quick to make the decision. We do know that Mcebo was going through disciplinary action, but his Hitler comments were the trigger of his removal.
The student body should have decided on his removal because Mcebo was democratically elected and, therefore, he needs to be democratically removed. In a personal capacity, I don’t support Mcebo’s views and his radical actions, but his ability to bring students together and incite anger against important issues is sometimes useful. The way he addressed the issues recently is completely wrong, but I do feel that what he said was taken out of context and the reaction to it is hypocritical as well.
Aaliyah Kara, BA majoring in politics and history, second year
The timing was a bit off because we know Mcebo has not been dismissed because of what he said regarding Hitler, but rather because of his assault charges. Everyone’s thinking it’s because of his Hitler comments and that’s problematic. So it now seems as if Habib removed him because he didn’t agree with what Mcebo was saying, which sets a bad precedent because if you have a future SRC president with views that the VC doesn’t agree with, is he simply going to remove him?
Mcebo needed to be removed from office by the students themselves and not simply as a decision from the VC. The Hitler comments definitely did play a part in the decision. If you look at the media attention the comments received, we know that Habib is frightened of bad publicity with regards to Wits, so it definitely prompted him to make the decision quickly. Mcebo has radical views that a lot of people would agree with but Habib hates to hear about. He didn’t have enough tact to reconcile his personal views with the political structures that he was part of as SRC president.
– Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Source : The Daily Vox