Violent protests hindering progress, says Nzimande

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, says violent campus protests only serve to delay the implementation of agreements reached with student bodies.

The Minister on Tuesday condemned the violence that characterises the student protests at the University of Zululand and other tertiary education institutions throughout the country.

This follows violent incidents at the University of Zululand, including the torching of police and university vehicles, the torching of the SSD Building, and the use of intimidation and inflammatory language against other students.

The current Student Representative Council (SRC) administrator of the university was also attacked.

In response to the current situation, Nzimande said the university has decided to suspend academic activities and ultimately shut down the university.

“These instances of violence provide no solution to student concerns, but rather delay the implementation of the agreements reached with students, through the South African Union of Students,” Nzimande said in a statement issued following a meeting with university management and student formations, held in Durban, on Monday.

During a meeting held between Nzimande and the South African Union of Students (SAUS) on 31 January 2020, SAUS agreed to call off the national shutdown with immediate effect in the wake of the common understanding and agreements reached in the meeting.

“We agreed with SAUS and Universities South Africa (USAf) that institutional matters will be dealt with at institutional level. However, my door as a Minister and that of the department will always be open for further consultation.

“The framework includes, among others, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) allocation, student accommodation, and safety and security on campus.

“What is also important from the meeting is that there was a general agreement by both parties to recommit to urgent engagements on the challenges at the institution, particularly in relation to the reported academic and financial exclusions of students and the closure of the university,” Nzimande said.

On the issue of the election of the SRC, it was noted that the absence of the SRC is compounding the problem at the institution, and it was agreed with all sides that processes must be put in place to re-establish the SRC.

University commended for paying student allowances 

Nzimande has commended the university for paying student allowances on time.

“This is an achievement that we welcome and I must also indicate that this has been a trend, even in some of the universities and colleges throughout the country.

“The meeting agreed that with immediate effect, there should be a process to categorise students, who have been academically and financially excluded. This process will then lead to the finalisation of the registration process for these categories of student,” Nzimande explained.

The Minister said he is going to engage all stakeholders on the reports of corruption and maladministration at the university.

“Of importance is the need for all role players to work together to identify problems and seek to resolve them timeously and at an institutional level,” Nzimande said. –

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