Are DUT’s technical difficulties becoming of a university of technology?
“Please note that our IT colleagues need few more hours to ensure that all residencies are properly linked. A formal communication will be issued once the system is open.”
The above quotation is a DUT communique stating the delaying of the house committee elections that were scheduled to start taking place yesterday.
In the lead-up to this year’s Student Representative Council (SRC) elections the EFF Student Command (EFFSC) and South African Students Congress (SASCO) raised concerns that DUT has failed to implement online elections. Both parties referred to the house committee nominations where the online system failed.
Originally, the house committee elections were supposed to take place in late October, however, they were postponed. The university cited academic results of certain students not being produced as the reason for the postponement. On the contrary, EFFSC and SASCO said the reason for the postponement was because DUT could not implement online voting.
The SRC elections were said to take place from the 9th to the 11th of November. In the lead-up to the election EFFSC secretary at DUT, Sandiso Buthelezi, said the party had its lawyers on standby because they do not trust the integrity of DUT’s online voting system. According to Buthelezi the house committee nominations were used as a test.
“We used the house committee elections as a test and the system failed two times,” he said.
Sandile Ngcobo who was a SASCO candidate in this year’s SRC elections said some links were not working during the house committee nominations.
On the 3rd of November DUT issued a brief statement stating that the SRC election will be postponed by a week. The statement cited security threats as the reason for the postponement. Iziko made contact with DUT student governance in an effort to ascertain the nature of those threats but there was no response from the institution.
EFFSC chairperson, Buntu Faku, said those threats were technical in nature. He mentioned one-time-pins being a problem, the university was making sure they were more secure.
After postponing the SRC elections by week, voting day arrived. When over 600 students had voted in the Durban campuses and over 100 in the Midlands – DUT postponed the election by one more day. Those votes were nullified. According to a statement released by the EFFSC, it is because of the institution’s ‘failure to secure and implement a voting system which promotes free and fair elections.’
Once again, on the day the house committee elections were supposed to commence – DUT has postponed them and the institution has cited technical difficulties as the problem.