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UKZN Students Hold Out Until Grievances Resolved

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UKZN Students Hold Out Until Grievances Resolved

UKZN Students Hold Out Until Grievances Resolved.Students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in Pietermaritzburg have taken a stand, asserting that they will refrain from attending contact classes until their grievances are properly addressed.

UKZN Students Hold Out Until Grievances Resolved

This stance emerged following an email from the university announcing the resumption of contact classes, which had been shifted online due to ongoing student protests. However, this declaration led to further demonstrations on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

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Student Outcry Against Nsfas Payment Method Sparks Protests

The students’ protest is primarily centered around their opposition to the new direct payment approach implemented by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas). Under this scheme, Nsfas selected external suppliers to manage payments, deviating from the previous involvement of university administration in payment processes and supplier appointments.

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Since its introduction in June, this new system has left students dissatisfied, as many have not received their complete monthly allowances for accommodation and living expenses. Consequently, a number of students who reside in private accommodations have faced eviction due to inability to pay rent.

Students Stand Firm in Demands, Reject Academic Resumption

In a recent mass gathering, students expressed their determination not to return to classes until their concerns are adequately addressed. The chairperson of the EFF student council branch, Kwandile Mchunu, conveyed their refusal to engage in any form of academic activities until their demands are met. Mchunu’s statement highlights the students’ frustration with the university management’s response to their memorandum of demands. The students claim that the university administration has been dismissive and uncooperative in addressing their grievances.

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Intensified Campus Presence and Ongoing Negotiations

The situation on campus escalated to the extent that armed police officers were visible within the premises, and police vehicles were stationed at campus gates. The university administration maintained that the decision to resume contact teaching and learning activities had been reached after careful consideration of all relevant factors and consultation with various parties, including the Student Representative Council (SRC) executive committee.

Students Reach Out to Authorities for Redress

The students have escalated their efforts to seek resolution by appealing to external bodies. They have formally written to the South African Human Rights Commission, urging an investigation into possible infringements of constitutional and human rights at UKZN. Additionally, the students have signaled their intentions to reach out to the national leadership of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a prominent political party, to bring attention to what they perceive as attempts by the management, with political affiliations, to suppress student voices.

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University’s Perspective on Resumption of Classes

Normah Zondo, the Executive Director of Corporate Relations at UKZN, affirmed that contact teaching and learning activities have resumed smoothly on all campuses except for Pietermaritzburg. She clarified that the shift to online learning had been a precautionary measure aimed at preserving the academic program’s integrity, particularly given the intricate landscape of higher education in the country.

Conclusion

UKZN students in Pietermaritzburg have steadfastly refused to return to contact classes until their concerns about the new Nsfas payment method and related issues are properly addressed. The campus remains in a state of protest, with students actively engaging in efforts to secure their rights and rectify what they perceive as injustices.

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