TWO weeks after the student elections, the DA Student Organisation was yesterday named to control Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University's new Student Representative Council for next year.
Daso had bagged 14 seats while opponents the South African Students' Congress (Sasco) won five out of a total of 21 seats, the university said.
The election for the remaining two seats, which represent student residence house committees, was declared void and a re-election will take place on Tuesday next week.
This comes after a ballot box containing the house committee votes was stolen by a group, alleged to be Sasco members, during vote-counting on September 19.
The election was crucial for the DA as the party believes its victory indicates the voting patterns of young South Africans.
The election was hotly contested, with both the ANC and DA national and provincial leaders taking turns to woo the student vote.
Outgoing Daso president Yusuf Cassim said the results would "send political shockwaves throughout the Eastern Cape because they clearly illustrate that young South Africans have turned their backs on the ANC-aligned Sasco".
Incoming SRC president Yanga Sibelekwana said the election illustrated the confidence the students had in Daso, and that he and his office intended to work hard to deliver more to the students, developing them into empowered individuals.
DA heavyweight Athol Trollip said the election results were a significant momentum shift for Daso campaigns on all the other tertiary institution campuses across the country.
"Daso, like the DA, is more and more being embraced by voters as a competent and realistic alternative to Sasco and the ANC," he said.
Sasco regional secretary Christopher Mncwabe said the organisation was not satisfied with how the university management and Independent Electoral Commission had handled their grievances regarding the election, and Sasco was considering seeking legal advice.
"However, it does not close our eyes to challenges facing the organisation," Mncwabe said.
NMMU political analyst Joleen Steyn- Kotze said it was clear the liberation struggle did not hold much weight for the student population. It was all about what the party could do for the individual.
"As born-frees are coming in, the student population is able to transcend and think critically in voting, with their mind and not their heart," she said.
"But if they voted for Daso, it would not necessarily mean they would become staunch DA supporters."
Daso made history last year when it won 11 seats and took over from Sasco.
NMMU spokeswoman Roslyn Baatjies said the delay in announcing the results was because the Independent Electoral Commission had given Daso and Sasco a chance last week to lodge written objections. The IEC then considered the nine objections, two from Daso and seven from Sasco, and gave their official response on Thursday.
"An appeals process [then] opened," Baatjies said. "Parties could appeal to the NMMU dean of students. The close of the period for appeals [was] on Friday at noon, [but] no appeals were lodged."
She said the voter turnout had increased by 7%. "We are impressed that more students came to exercise their democratic right and vote for the student organisation of their choice."