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Learners prepare for council vote
13 May 2009

Members of the student council have started campaigning ahead of the elections

Joburg's junior councillors are canvassing for votes from their peers in the Student Council, with elections for its executive on the horizon.

Outgoing deputy mayor of the student council, Oscar Ngema, has fond memories of his tenure
Outgoing deputy mayor of the student council, Oscar Ngema, has fond memories of his tenure

A GROUP of 120 members of the Johannesburg Student Council will take to the polls to elect its executive on 27 June.

The City's junior councillors met on 9 May to nominate their preferred candidates for the executive's 10 portfolios. They could also nominate themselves if they could amass at least 10 signatures.

The candidates can campaign until the day of the election. "Campaigns are on until 27 June. We want to give you more time to campaign," Yusuf Lachporia, the council manager, told the group.

Innovation is required to run a successful campaign. Lachporia said the candidates could use various media to canvass for votes. "Email and SMS campaigns are allowed."

Two portfolios - that of junior mayor and junior Speaker - are highly sought as they include a prestigious package; the two are guaranteed to take part in a student exchange programme to Germany later this year.

The Johannesburg office of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will oversee the election. IEC representative, Rafick Charles, said the election would be conducted in a fashion similar to that of the national election.

"We run it like a normal election because we want to make the junior councillors aware of real life situations ... We even have real IEC ballots. We have the candidates' photos as well."

Charles told the councillors that each candidate should prepare a speech to deliver on Election Day, as part of their electioneering.

"You have to convince your fellow councillors to listen to you in your campaigns. It is for you to think about how you will sell your ideas," Lachporia said. "We are looking forward to running an exciting election."



Candidates and alumni
A group of alumni councillors from the previous council joined the 2009 group to share experiences and tips on how to campaign effectively.

"The council is diverse in terms of culture," said a 2008 councillor, Mpumelelo Hadi, adding that it was interesting to learn about other cultures besides his own.

The 2008 deputy mayor, Oscar Ngema, said his group's experience at the council was "great, educational and experimental. It is one of those experiences we will never forget in our lifetimes."

Most of the junior councillors are upbeat about the council and the forthcoming election. Zuzile Pondo, a pupil at the National School of Arts (NSA), said the council was a "learning curve" for her. "It builds our characters."

A pupil from Noordgesig Secondary School in Orlando East, Lindokuhle Mbatha, said it was a privilege being part of the council. "I take it as a privilege but it comes with certain responsibilities towards my school."

Stephanie van Starten, from Beaulieu College in Kyalami, is running for junior mayor and is passionate about making the student council a voice worth listening to. "I plan to make the council heard. We are not a big voice within the community," she said.

"The City is on a good route. The government does a lot of positive things, so we need to have a voice as the student council."

Mona Morienyane, who is also a learner at the NSA, has been nominated for junior Speaker. She said she would canvass votes by making the council aware of the power it possesses.

"I think we should get out of the idea that teenagers should stay in their boxes. There are great people with great ideas here. They are just limiting themselves," Morienyane said.

Precious Makaula is concerned about safety and security at her school, Klipspruit West Secondary School. Makaula is running for safety chairperson. "The principal and the teachers are doing their best to control the situation. But it is difficult.

"We have to lend a hand as students and do other things on our own," said Makaula. "I want to focus on safety issues from other schools as well, not just my own."



The young councillors also had an opportunity to debate important national issues. The R75-million spent on President Jacob Zuma's inauguration, the Dalai Lama's visa being declined and the illegal status of prostitution all came under the spotlight.

And they had opposing views on all these issues. "We need to deal with a problem that has arisen," said Xola Nohaji-Mkoko of St Stithian's Girls College in Sandton. "We have people who say prostitution is the only way they can generate an income. Legalising prostitution will help us deal with its consequences."

But her peer, James McLaren, from St Stithian's Boys College, said prostitution was immoral. "Sex should not be a commodity," he explained.

While Ngema said the president deserved to have R75-million spent on him, numerous councillors shared the view that a portion of the money could have been used better.


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Last Updated on 10 January 2013