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No #NationalShutdown for UKZN, MUT and DUT

Shops close as students protest over registration-related issues in Braamfontein. Picture: Itumeleng English African News Agency (ANA)

Shops close as students protest over registration-related issues in Braamfontein. Picture: Itumeleng English African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 16, 2021


Durban - THE provincial legislature has signed and accepted a memorandum from students who marched from the TVET College, Msunduzi campus, to the provincial buildings in solidarity with the national student shutdown which began on Monday.

Nomusa Phungula, an official from the speaker’s office, said the memorandum was accepted by Bongani Tembe, the manager in the office.

Among the student’s demands are that TVET college students be paid transport money, accommodation and meal allowances as a matter of urgency; there is a curriculum review; and an integration policy between universities.

Students from Mangosuthu University of Technology, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the Durban University of Technology did not take part in the march on Monday and in the national shutdown.

UKZN SRC president Moses Nkambako said they were united in the decision to respect the late King Goodwill Zwelithini, who bowed on Friday, and thus they would not participate in the march.

“The call was to respect Isilo (the King). He has been to UKZN and we respect him. We are also in full support of the national shutdown. We will meet to forge a way forward this week. In a few days there will be something huge,” said Nkambako.

DUT SRC president Zabelo Ntuli said they could not participate in the shutdown as there were no students. This was because the institution would only allow students to register once the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) confirmed funding.

“Even if we wanted to participate we couldn’t. We need to have students here. We have written to management about this. We fully support the shutdown. We felt let down at the weekend when the Department of Higher Education told us there was no post-graduate funding.”

MUT SRC president Mthokozisi Gumede said they supported the shutdown, but their situation did not allow them to participate.

“We are still playing catch-up in the 2020 academic year. We have some students who are currently writing exams. NSFAS is expecting all results at the end of this week. We are still trying to engage with the institution… however MUT has come with nothing on the table which is no surprise as it has to get a directive from the Department of Higher Education.

“When Minister (of Higher Education Blade) Nzimande did not arrive at the weekend’s meeting in Pretoria it showed us that he doesn’t care and then he sent his deputy who read from a speech showing that he really had no grip on the issues we face.”

The national shutdown comes after Nzimande failed to respond to a list of 15 demands in a letter written by protesting students in Pretoria (the SA Union of Students (Saus) on Wednesday. He was given until last Friday to respond.

The demands included, among others, immediate provision of post-graduate funding as well the scrapping of students’ R13 billion historical debt.

Acting Public Protector Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka said on Monday she would be intervening in tertiary education challenges and would over the next five weeks be visiting institutions nationwide where she would engage with SRCs and management.

On Monday IOL reported that protesting students burnt tyres and shops were forced to close in Johannesburg as they embarked on the national shutdown.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) council has approved the proposal by the executive for students with 2020 debt to be allowed to register this year.

This was after UCT students protested demanding the university allow all students to register last week. UCT’s chair of council, Babalwa Ngonyama, said universities needed to work collaboratively to find creative and innovative solutions to the funding crisis.

Daily News