No return to class as NMMU mediation fails

FULL SUPPORT: Higher Education Parents Dialogue secretary Mthi Ndube addresses students at a mass meeting at the NMMU Indoor Sports Centre yesterday Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI
FULL SUPPORT: Higher Education Parents Dialogue secretary Mthi Ndube addresses students at a mass meeting at the NMMU Indoor Sports Centre yesterday

But varsity will support bid for free education

A beleaguered NMMU, which has had classes disrupted by protests for six weeks, has committed itself to helping students take the fight for free education to the government.

The university has also agreed to withdraw as complainants against students arrested during the #FeesMustFall protests.

A meeting of hundreds of students and parents yesterday also saw calls for police to be removed from campus.

This follows a lengthy mediation process between various student bodies, parents and university management as per instruction of a court order.

However, NMMU spokeswoman Zandile Mbabela said last night the mediation process had not yielded the desired outcome.

“Notwithstanding the fact that Fees Must Fall students were in agreement with all mediated issues, they decided at the mass meeting [yesterday] to continue with the shutdown,” she said.

Mbabela said “varied teaching and learning approaches” would be implemented from Monday, with details to be communicated during the course of today.

Numerous attempts to obtain comment from #FeesMustFall leaders last night were unsuccessful.

Addressing a packed south campus Indoor Sports Centre earlier, student leader Thanduxolo Nkala said the university had responded to their list of demands, but was yet to implement them.

“One of our demands was the issue of debt clearance and after robust debate the university has said those students on the debt relief programme will have their debts cleared. However, this is an ongoing process,” Nkala said.

In his address, Nkala claimed university management had also committed itself to supporting the Higher Education Parents Dialogue – a collective of concerned parents who represent members of the #FeesMustFall movement.

Mbabela was unable to confirm these claims.

The floor was then opened to suggestions from students, with many saying they were not willing to return to classes.

#FeesMustFall member Thobile Mboyiya said final year students were being forced to submit their work online by the university which demonstrated that the institution did not fully support the shutdown.

“The university says they support the call for free education, yet they continue to send e-mail correspondence asking us to submit online,” Mboyiya said.

“They must stop with this or we will find someone to shut down the system.”

An emergency services student, who did not identify himself, suggested that classes resume for three days a week while protest action continued on Thursdays and Fridays.

“Most of us come from rural areas. How are we going to uplift the community if we can’t get our qualifications?” he asked.

Meanwhile, the Concerned Association of Parents and Others for Tertiary Education at Universities’ (Captu’s) legal representative, Brin Brody, said the mediation process had broken down.

“The fact that the students want total free education, and it can’t be given by the university, led to the mediation breaking down completely,” Brody said.

“We are disappointed to have to head back to court, but the university needs to open its doors.”

Captu will be back in the Grahamstown High Court today, seeking that the university open its doors and ensure the safety of all students.


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