Former Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) president Mcebo Dlamini declared himself the “vice-chancellor of Wits” and forged ahead with a “General Assembly” despite the official one being called off.
Speaking inside a fully packed marquee on the Library Lawns‚ Dlamini said protesting students were proceeding with the gathering as people had invested their time to attend it.
“As of now‚ I’m now taking over as vice-chancellor. Comrades‚ with the power that has been vested on me‚ I’m going to chair the assembly‚” Dlamini‚ who also describes himself as a leader of the Fees Must Fall movement‚ said to a round of applause.
He said Wits vice-chancellor Prof Adam Habib has “run away and has waived his rights and obligation to be a vice-chancellor”.
“We now demand the assembly. He didn’t consult us when he cancelled it. He woke up from wherever he was sleeping and decided that he is not ready to face students; he is not ready to give the reality of this campus‚” added Dlamini.
He had earlier accused Habib of acting in “bad faith” following the announcement of the postponement.
“The vice-chancellor acted in bad faith and even negotiated in bad faith. We wanted him to commit‚ and he’s not being honest when he says we wanted one demand which is free education‚” Dlamini said outside the Great Hall.
“We had separated the demands to internal and external… the external has nothing to do with Wits.”
His remarks came after the university said it was announcing the postponement “with deep regret” and said a “Council meeting will be called this weekend after which a way forward for the University will be determined”.
Earlier on Friday‚ the university said: “We had reached consensus with all university constituencies including Council‚ Senate‚ Convocation‚ labour and staff‚ but not with the protesting students‚” it said in a statement.
The university statement on the postponement highlighted that: “One of the latest demands of the protesting students is that Wits and all other universities should be shut down until government agrees to free education.”