Ricardo Teixeira

On 3 May, the SRC member for Societies, Obakeng Sepeng, told chairpersons of UP societies that their funding would be withheld if they failed to attend society specific training. This came after some chairpersons of UP societies claimed that the training was poorly communicated. According to Sepeng, he notified the chairpersons during the society sub-council meeting on 26 March that the training would take place on 10, 11, or 12 May, and asked them to reserve those dates. Sepeng created a WhatsApp group on 23 April and said the training program would be communicated on 7 May. However, it was only confirmed by Sepeng on 9 May that the training would take place on Saturday 12 May. Sepeng communicated with the societies chairpersons in response to their unhappiness towards the short notice. He responded by saying “Please let me know not to bother my self organising training for yall [sic].” On the WhatsApp group, Sepeng added further that the chairpersons who could not attend should “keep it to your self till Monday [7 May] when I address y’all at 15:00 [sic]”.

The address did not occur as Sepeng said that he had nothing to communicate. One of the chairpersons then responded, “I just want to state categorically how this is really unacceptable @Obakeng Sepeng. It is clear that we are not taken seriously here. You can’t say we going [sic] to address a particular matter at 15:00 and just not say anything, not even a notice of postponement or something. This is really out of order [sic].” On 9 May, Sepeng communicated via email with the societies chairpersons that the training would take place on 12 May. The email contained an extract from the sub-council constitution, section 7, sub-section 7.3.5 which reads, “If societies fail to adhere to any of the duties and regulations as set out in this Constitution or as determined by the SRC Member for Societies, this may lead to the temporary suspension of the said society or the funds and any other benefits normally applicable to societies, can be suspended until restored at the discretion of the SRC Member for Societies”. On the WhatsApp group, Sepeng had sent a message saying, “Just know if u don’t attend u won’t get access to your money. […] Not attending as per constitution you can be suspended. Trust me, action will be taken for non compliance. [sic]” Sepeng went on to say that excuses could be emailed to him, and that “Those with events send proof of approval to me.” One of the chairpersons on the group called Sepeng out. “This is leadership. I have to say, Obakeng your attitude is not that of a leader, you need to listen to your people and respond in a manner that will not lead to retaliation and name calling. I think the training which took place last week you were supposed to attend it to learn some communication and leadership skills, from the onset of all of this you failed to show leadership. I would suggest that you address your communication skills.” In an interview with Perdeby, Sepeng defended his actions saying, “When I dropped the final confirmation date, it was a matter of confirming what we spoke about.” Sepeng was asked if he received any valid reasons from the chairpersons and said, “I told them to send me official emails, and I haven’t checked my emails. However, they must provide valid reasons.” Sepeng went on to stress the urgency of the training and stated that if the training could not be done on Saturday 12 May, “there’s no other way we’re going to have training, so it’s a matter of we have to do it now.” Sepeng said that of the 117 societies registered for 2018, there was “80% overall attendance”. When asked what consequences there would be for those who were absent from the traing, Sepeng said, “Regarding the repercussion, it has not been decided. It was discussed among the Society Sub-Council and in the Student Forum that the outcomes for those who did not come is not yet decided. The SRC still needs to meet and will decide on the outcomes or repercussions of that matter”

Elmarie Kruger

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