An impasse between Lovedale College management, staff and students is bringing the Eastern Cape institution to its knees. Violent protests have broken out on campus and buildings at the three campuses are being vandalised.
Workers affiliated to National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) are in their second week of a national strike. Their demands include full time employment for contract workers and the re-aligning of the TVET sector organogram.
The students say they are the worst affected and demand their right to learn and they fear for their safety.
SRC president is Asemahle Zikhali says “As we are coming from the poor background, we are affected directly because there are students that reside outside of the college accommodation that are not able to pay monthly accommodation to those landlords. So it affects them directly and it affects our parents because we come from poor backgrounds.”
However, the management of Lovedale says the situation is receiving attention. Lovedale Principal, Juanita Verster says management is dealing with the issues.
“We are trying to normalise the situation through the security and asking staff to please come back to work, so that we can start getting our plans in place again and then once we’re ready, we will then say to our students listen we can allow you to come back for teaching and learning. The sooner we can get that done, the better because we’re already running out of serious time for this semester one programme. We are not intending to close our college. If we have to find other ways and means to catch up with the back-lock of this curriculum, then that is what we’re going to do.”
The workers want the Department of Higher Education to intervene. Nehawu Chairperson at Lovedale college is Thembalethu Bhenuka, “So we are not prepared to discuss anything because we gave them time. We gave them an opportunity to sit down but we deadlocked. That is why we are saying now, we solely dependent on the national office of Minister Naledi Pandor. The Lovedale College management they failed dismally.”
Students have been asked to vacate the residences until further notice.
The college’s management says it will continue engaging the workers to find a solution.