In spite of an agreement between the management of the University of KwaZulu-Natal and students meant to halt a new spate of protests at the institution’s four campuses reached on Tuesday, a new one flared up on Wednesday at Westville. The protests, led by the South African Students Congress (Sasco), are over delayed funding, especially to postgraduate students. However, the university said it doesn’t have any additional financial resources available.
“The main reason behind the protest is that we had a strike at the beginning of the year and were promised that many tabulated issues are going to be resolved. That is the reason we resumed classes, unfortunately, a number of those promised were not fulfilled. Postgraduate funding, off-campus Wi-Fi, 24-hour emergency health care access to name a few,” said Sasco deputy chairperson Olwethu Zuma to The Daily Vox on Wednesday.
On Thursday last week, students at UKZN Westville and Edgewood campuses took to the streets, which resulted in the suspension of academic programmes on all campuses.
University management said in a statement some of the demands include free postgraduate education for all beneficiaries of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) beneficiaries, and security and safety in outsourced residences.
“The academic programme on the Pietermaritzburg, Westville, Edgewood and Howard College Campuses has been suspended due to violent protest action,” the corporate relations acting executive director Normah Zondo said in a statement.
This is the second round of protests, following the provincial shutdown in February and March which affected UKZN, the Mangosuthu University of Technology, the University of South Africa, the University of Zululand and the Durban University of Technology, where student Mlungisi Madonsela was shot and killed by security during a protest on 4 February.
– eThekwini Secure (@EthekwiniSecure) March 13, 2019
According to the Howard College student representative council, more than 700 postgraduate students who were promised funding after an agreement with management are still not paid yet.
However, management says it currently doesn’t have any available additional financial resources.
“At this stage, the University does not have any additional financial resources available for further funding and management never committed to funding all students,” Zondo said.
Zondo added: “All funding is informed by the principle of financial affordability and sustainability. It is therefore incumbent upon the University to maintain strict fiscal discipline. The University has availed approximately R119 million towards fulfilling its moral, ethical and professional obligation to support some of our most vulnerable students.”
Featured image by Lizeka Maduna