Mid-year examinations continue to be disrupted for a second day by protests at the University of Limpopo, in Mankweng, east of Polokwane.
Contract workers and students are against the out-sourcing of services by the university. Off-campus students have also joined the protest – citing the non-payment of their living allowance.
Police and tactical response units earlier fired rubber bullets to try and disperse the crowds.
The strike by contract workers and students at the University of Limpopo is now in its second day. Workers providing security and cleaning services say they earn low wages under a system where the university gives contracts to private companies that in turn employ them.
Workers and the Student Representative Council are demanding that the workers be employed directly by the university. The SRC, led by the EFF Student Command, also want students who reside outside the university to be given an allowance.
SRC president Mintirho Mnisi says, “We are saying to the university management, give us the off campus allowance so we can be able to pay the rent. Secondly we are having our parents who are not in-sourced, who are working under contracts; and we know very well that when you are an out-sourced employee or working under contract there is no benefit that you are having.”
Mnisi says while they acknowledge that the disruption of exams is concerning, the strike will continue until a solution is reached with management.
“Yes, off course there is some people out there who are saying that we are not reasonable enough how can we start during exams and the likes, there is never a write time anytime is the right time so we are fighting now not that we did not qualify for the exams.”
Students have expressed mixed views on the situation on campus.
“They can postpone. We deal with the issue of in-sourcing then we’ll write. we were suppose to be writing English, I am really disappointed.”
Meanwhile, a representative of the Azanian Student Convention on the student representative council, Vulani Makamu, says they are against the disruption of exams.
“We as the Azanian Student Convention are against this particular strike because it came at a moment where academic activities such as examinations are taking place therefore we cannot support such things that aims at denying the black child the right to education so we are saying let them free the black child go and write then they can solve their issues at a particular time.”
The Vice Chancellor, Mahlo Mokgalong, says they are in consultation with all stakeholders in an effort to reach a solution.
“You must know examinations are culmination of all academic activities. Now when the students and workers go around disrupting examinations, we find that quite disturbing and unacceptable. That is why right now we are in consultation with both the students and organised labour to chat a way forward. We don’t have any security because they left all the ports of entry and they joined the strike which they shouldn’t have done. But we are in consultation with both their employers.”
The situation remains tense, and police are monitoring.