Jesse Griesel, who is running as a candidate for the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in the upcoming Student Representative Council (SRC) elections at the University of Cape Town (UCT), says she has been labelled as a “race traitor” on social media.
The 19-year-old who is in her second year at the top South African university said she was met with negative reactions when she announced her plans to run as an SRC candidate under the EFF for the 2021/22 term.
The EFF is often described as a controversial and divisive political party calling on the empowerment of black people and the seizing of white wealth without compensation to address past injustices. It is led by the radical Julius Malema.
“The comments were expected from white people,” she said.
“White people want to talk about the EFF dividing South Africans and causing racial tension yet EFF members have embraced me and I have been labelled a ’race traitor’ by white people.
“Everyone can do the maths themselves but it looks to me like the only ones continually dividing South Africa are those averse to change and progress.”
Voting for UCT SRC candidates is expected to open on Monday.
Griesel, who aims to ensure that all students’ identities are at the forefront of any decision-making process if elected, said she will not let the negative comments deter her.
“I’m very aware that I would get this reaction from white people. They are so worried that a white person could possibly see themselves as an ally to black liberation.
“I have been overwhelmed and so grateful for the support I have gained I haven’t spent much time dwelling on that,” she said.
“I’ve been serving students through the EFFSC since May and with the endorsement and encouragement from members of the branch as well as my own personal interest, I decided to run for the SRC as this would just give me further access to helping students on a larger scale, as well as giving me more access and power to do so.
“Right now I don’t have much institutional power to help students. SRC would serve as that platform,” said Griesel.