Var­sity to re­open, gets court or­der against pro­test­ers

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

PORT EL­IZ­A­BETH — The Nel­son Man­dela Metropoli­tan Univer­sity (NMMU) has an­nounced that it will be re­open­ing to­day, with the in­tent of re­sum­ing classes to­mor­row.

This is af­ter the univer­sity’s coun­cil met on Fri­day and agreed that the univer­sity must re­open. Fol­low­ing the coun­cil de­ci­sion, the univer­sity ob­tained a court or­der for the in­sti­tu­tion to re­sume classes and take ac­tion against protest­ing stu­dents if nec­es­sary.

The coun­cil de­ci­sion comes af­ter a me­di­a­tion process be­tween var­i­ous stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing the NMMU Man­age­ment, NMMU FeesMustFall move­ment and the Con­cerned As­so­ci­a­tion of Par­ents and Oth­ers for Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion at Uni­ver­si­ties (Captu) broke down on Thurs­day.

And, while many stu­dents and lec­tur­ers have wel­comed the an­nounce­ment, the NMMU FeesMustFall move­ment have ac­cused the univer­sity of act­ing in bad faith and have vowed that it will re­main closed.

“An adapted aca­demic calendar has been ap­proved in prin­ci­ple by the Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee of Se­nate. The calendar as­sumes that, with classes start­ing on 18 Oc­to­ber 2016, lec­tures will con­tinue for about four weeks to com­plete the aca­demic pro­gramme, fol­lowed by three study days be­fore an ex­am­i­na­tion pe­riod of about three weeks,” said NMMU spokesper­son Zandile Mba­bela.

Mba­bela said an over­ar­ch­ing aca­demic re­cov­ery plan has been drafted, along with more de­tailed fac­ulty-based re­cov­ery plans, which are sen­si­tive to the fact that stu­dents have lost mo­men­tum in their stud­ies.

“In ad­di­tion, Stu­dent Coun­selling will be run­ning ses­sions for stu­dents who need to deal with feel­ings of un­cer­tainty, anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion and anger, and so on to as­sist them with sense-mak­ing and re-en­gag­ing with their stud­ies,” she said.

Mba­bela said sim­i­lar well­ness in­ter­ven­tions will be made avail­able to staff.

A post in re­sponse to the univer­sity’s an­nounce­ment on the FeesMustFall Move­ment’s Face­book page, made it clear that the group in­tended to con­tinue with cam­pus shut­down ac­tiv­i­ties.

“We did not mum­ble when we said that ours is free ed­u­ca­tion and un­til then, ours will be pur­su­ing the re­al­i­sa­tion of free ed­u­ca­tion.

“We par­took in the me­di­a­tion in good faith with the as­sump­tion that the Univer­sity had come to the in­evitable con­clu­sion that join­ing our call would be ben­e­fi­cial to all higher ed­u­ca­tion stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing uni­ver­si­ties.

“NMMU how­ever re­sponded by show­ing an un­will­ing­ness to reach a so­lu­tion to this cri­sis by pulling out of the court man­dated me­di­a­tion process.

“We there­fore find it disin­gen­u­ous of NMMU to re­sume op­er­a­tions when the court man­dated me­di­a­tion has not reached its con­clu­sion. A de­tailed com­mu­ni­ca­tion on a way for­ward will be sent out to stu­dents to­mor­row, but rest as­sured, asi­jiki sin­gagqibanga! kwaye asikazu­jika sin­gagqibanga!”

Sup­port­ers on the page have vowed that the univer­sity will re­main closed.

Floyd T Ngob­eni posted: “Ready your iron­ing boards for Mon­day we go to war,” a ref­er­ence to pho­to­graphs of TUT stu­dents us­ing iron­ing boards as shields while tak­ing on riot po­lice.

Ol­wethu Pheshe chirped that iron­ing boards were on spe­cial at Shoprite.

“No court or­der formed against us shall pros­per,” posted Si­nox­olo Nkon­jane while Ma­son­wabe Ben­jamin Mayeza posted, “Lol those who want to grad­u­ate they will grad­u­ate in Court #Asi­jiki”

Mean­while, for­mer Wits SRC pres­i­dent Mcebo Dlamini — one of the lead­ers of the Fees Must Fall cam­paign — has been ar­rested.

“A stu­dent leader was ar­rested in the early hours of this [Sun­day] morn­ing at the Wits Junc­tion Res­i­dence Com­plex,” said the Univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand in a state­ment.

Dlamini sent a text to a News24 re­porter iden­ti­fy­ing him­self as the ar­rested per­son in ques­tion.

The Wits SRC said on its Face­book page that he was ap­par­ently taken from a res­i­dence af­ter his room “was stormed by po­lice”. It added that he was ap­par­ently not told why he was be­ing ar­rested.

Ac­cord­ing to the Univer­sity, he was taken to the Cleve­land Po­lice Sta­tion. The ex­act charges he is fac­ing are not yet known.

Wits Vu­vuzela, a com­mu­nity news­pa­per, re­ported that the charge ap­par­ently re­lated to as­sault­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer. Na­tional po­lice spokesper­son Bri­gadier Sally de Beer was not im­me­di­ately avail­able to com­ment.

Ad­vo­cate and na­tional Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers chair­per­son, Dali Mpofu, tweeted that he had spent an hour with Dlamini at the sta­tion and that he was well. — Sapa

Mcebo Dlamini

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