Tuesday 2021-09-21

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UNESWA CLOSED AS STUDENTS RIOT

By Sifiso Nhlabatsi | 2019-08-27

The University of Eswatini has sent learners packing after violent protests by students from the three campuses who also vandalised property.

All three campuses were closed indefinitely and students were told to vacate the premises by noon. A memo to this effect was issued while students were on their way to deliver a petition to the ministry of labour and social security.

The chaos started during a joint student meeting which was held at the university on Sunday night. Students went on a riot, setting fire that damaged property and blocking roads.

The protest continued even yesterday morning, leaving the institution with no option but to close the university in order to prevent more damage to property.

Meanwhile, students proceeded to the ministry of labour and social security in Mbabane where they delivered a petition to Principal Thulani Mkhaliphi. The petition, which was handed over by Students Representative Council (SRC) President Sakhile Ndzimandze, indicated that students were not happy with the new system of distributing allowances on monthly instalments via Mobile Money platforms.

Complained

The students said government started by cutting down on their allowances in 2011 and yet proceeded to disburse the little that students were getting in stages per semester.

Students complained that now government is breaking down the little they are getting by disbursing it in monthly instalments.

The students’ leader Ndzimandze said it would seem government did not take into consideration that the standard of living has shot up and everything is getting expensive by the day. He decried that despite taxes and rates shooting up, students allowances instead were cut.

Ndzimandze asked the principal secretary if his department had ever thought of calling students to enquire if the money given to them is enough to match the standard of living.

Negotiation

Students have since requested that the distribution must not be changed to monthly instalments but instead government must increase the allowances.

Students said the worst part about all this is that they were not even engaged by the ministry when such decisions were taken.

Ndzimandze said all they want is to be addressed by the ministry. The students asked for a negotiation table where they will meet officials from the ministry and forge a way forward.

On the scholarship list, Ndzimandze said they were really concerned about first year students who are registered but were yet to be grantred scholarship.

The concern, according to the SRC leader, is what would happen to the students who have already registered and are on their third week in class should government decide not to give them scholarships.

These students indicated that they had even been given a place at the university to stay. The students revealed that they fear that should they not get scholarship the university will kick them out.

Ndzimandze said all tertiary institutions were open and it is the third week now but some students were still in the dark about their future.

Earlier, during a press conference, Ministry of Labour and Social Secu-rity Principal Secretary Thulani Mkhaliphi revealed that there were thousands of students’ scholarship forms being processed by the scholarship board. Mkhaliphi had indicated that those which were completed were the online applications.

Mkhaliphi added that those who used the old method of applying were still being sorted as the paperwork was a tedious task.

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