ActionSA to Seek Legal Advice on Sanctions Against UCT Student Chapter

ActionSA UCT is disappointed to have had our society chapter’s launch event scheduled today, Friday 16 September 2022, cancelled by the University of Cape Town’s Election Commission (EC) and the Department of Student Affairs, barely two hours before the commencement of the event. The EC has unjustifiably found that ActionSA UCT allegedly contravened the rules on early campaigning and soliciting external assistance in running for Student Representative Council (SRC).

This comes after the EC has ordered ActionSA UCT to cancel the launch event and has handed out grossly disproportionate sanctions to ActionSA UCT in the process. These sanctions include ActionSA candidates not being permitted to campaign in person or online on any platform from Monday 19 September at midnight until Thursday 22 September at noon.

In practice, these sanctions equate to an attempt by the institution to crush the constitutionally mandated rights of students in respect to Sections 18 & 19 of the Constitution. We live in a democracy where the Constitution of the Republic is the supreme law of the land which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom to associate. This directive seeks to curtail those freedoms.

Student activists and chapter leaders were further threatened with the draconian ultimatum of being taken before the student disciplinary tribunal.

These sanctions would mean that ActionSA loses more than half of the campaigning time available for SRC candidates. This is an attempt to exclude ActionSA UCT from the political process on campus, which is an attack that attempts to threaten the pursuit and promotion of South Africa’s democratic values.

However, as one of ActionSA’s core principles is upholding the rule of law, we will abide by these disappointing and unnecessarily heavy sanctions. These sanctions only serve to diminish the quality of democratic discourse, freedom of speech and freedom of political participation on the University of Cape Town’s campus. This is a sad day for democracy.

We remain concerned that there is a persistent attempt in this country to prevent ActionSA from establishing a presence on the ground. In 2020, the IEC attempted to block Action SA from registering the logo, also leading to the party being unable to easily contest the recent Local Government Elections – preventing Action SA from being able to have the party’s name appear on the counsellor ballot paper.

We will fight any efforts to maintain the status quo and preclude ActionSA from providing a real alternative for the people of South Africa which includes the student population on campuses across this country.

As such, ActionSA will consult its legal team so that we may satisfy ourselves that the University is not misapplying its rules to the detriment of ActionSA’s Student Chapter.