UKZN on recess day while Unizulu closes after student robberies ahead of planned national shutdown
Student leaders in KwaZulu-Natal aligned to the EFF have vowed to ensure that higher education institutions in the province respect the party’s national shutdown’ planned for Monday.
This follows a call by the EFF mother body to shut down all activities in the country as they protest for the resignation of President Cyril Ramaphosa and an end to load-shedding.
EFF student command (EFFSC) provincial spokesperson Yaya Mnikwa told TimesLIVE that thecommand would be involved in the protest because the issues the march sought to address also affected students.
“The failures of Ramaphosa’s administration are also affecting us as students: petrol increases mean an increase in food prices and since the majority of students are NSFAS [National Student Financial Aid Scheme] beneficiaries we are feeling the pinch. Our membership as the EFFSC are also affected by load-shedding. That’s why we are fully behind the shutdown,” he said.
Mnikwa said they had lobbied institutions in the province to halt all activities on the day and a majority of them had confirmed they would down tools.
“We are busy sending letters to universities and TVET colleges across the province to tell them that nothing would be moving in these institutions on the 20th. Right now 75% of our 64 branches in the province have confirmed they would suspend all activities in line with the national shutdown. We will see how many would have confirmed by the end of the week,” said Mnikwa.
Mnikwa said the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), whose SRC is led by the EFFSC, was among the tertiary institutions that had confirmed they would be closed.
SRC president Wandile Majozi said he had heeded the call by national EFFSC president Sihle Lonzi and encouraged students to participate in the shutdown.
“It should be noted that UKZN has already suspended all activities for March 20. We had an engagement with them where a lot of issues were raised and we had an agreement. A communique was released that everything would be on a standstill on Monday,” he said.
“The university is releasing communiques updating us about power outages so we really need to confront the administration of Cyril Ramaphosa and call for an end to load-shedding.”
UKZN didn’t respond to queries but sent a communique to staff and students declaring Monday a student recess day ahead of Tuesday’s public holiday. The academic programme will resume on Wednesday.
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Durban University of Technology (DUT) SRC president Sanele Khumalo said they were still engaging the university and had “advised” it to close its operations on all campuses to avoid the shutdown potentially affecting students.
“Firstly, the shutdown will be national so people who will be coming to work will be affected and no buses will be traveling to and from residences, so opening campuses would be pointless because nothing will be happening. The entire Durban will be at a standstill,” he said.
Khumalo said they had also written to the university calling for the entire university community, both students and staff, to be part of the shutdown because they had all been complaining about the issues the protest was aimed at addressing.
“A few years back all university vice chancellors wrote memorandums and submitted them to the minister of higher education calling for the removal of Zuma, so we also want the same energy from everyone because Ramaphosa is not different from Zuma and we are fighting for a national matter,” said Khumalo.
He said they would do a final mobilisation on Friday from Botha Park in Durban, where they would lobby other political organisations and religious bodies that are not affiliated woth the EFF to join them.
Khumalo said DUT students wanted to see a complete shutdown of all business operations in Durban, including taxis, pharmacies and the harbour so that nothing came in or left the country.
“Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. What we want is for a complete shutdown the whole day but sometimes there are people who don’t want to do that. There is a way that people who are marching ensure that everything goes as they requested that not even the police or anyone can stop. We may end up seeing damage of things if things are not done properly, so that’s why the best course of action is for everyone to suspend their activities before things go out of control,” he said.
The DUT’s Alan Khan said: “Currently, the matter is still under discussion pending security assessments so no decision has been made as yet.”
The University of Zululand is closed until Wednesday after the robbery of students at off-campus residences this week.
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Meanwhile, the South African Students Congress-led Mangosuthu University of Technology said it would be business as usual at the institution.
“It will be a normal day for us. It hasn’t come to our attention that there should be something out of the ordinary on Monday and we are distancing ourselves from this EFF thing because it will only result in the arrest of students. We will see if anything changes between now and then but as it is, it will be a normal day,” said Mazwi Mnguni, SRC president at the university.
Mnikwa said he was confident their members had the necessary discipline to embark on a peaceful protest but warned those who were planning to carry on with their normal student activities to “avoid being on the wrong side of history”.
“There are many students who couldn’t access higher education because of the lack of higher institutions, which are things that Ramaphosa should be doing. He was found with millions of undeclared dollars so we are led by a criminal. We as intellectuals in universities and TVETs can see that Ramaphosa is not the right person for the job, so we demand another president,” he said.
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