Violent protests at UniZulu a money-making exercise: Nzimande

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The Higher Education and Training Department at the University of Zululand is investigating possible collusion between the institutions of higher learning management, student leadership and security companies.

According to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande higher learning management, student leadership and security companies colluded in destabilising the university to procure more security services.

Nzimande says in some instances violence is instigated as a money-making exercise. He says he will take up the matter with the Police Minister and the Security cluster.

“There is collusion between some security companies, some people in management positions in the institutions and some student leaders coordinate the destruction because destruction and violence forces the institution to employ more private security which means they get more tenders,” says Nzimande.

Nzimande made these comments when he gave feedback on problems engulfing the Zululand University that has been ridden with student protests for the last two weeks.

Lectures remain suspended at the university after clashes between students and protection services. Students also torched a police vehicle last week as they protested for more security especially for those who stay at off-campus residences.

A number of concerns raised

Students have also made calls for Vice Chancellor Professor Xoliswa Mtose to be fired.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Students Command’s Lindokuhle Madiba says, “There has been an agenda to suppress the students politics and another reason we can give is that the Vice Chancellor under her leadership there have been only two democratically elected SRCs and the rest were SRC Administrators of which is anti-democracy. We have seen autocracy under her leadership and we have seen purging of political leaders or students leaders.”

SASCO Branch Secretary Ayanda Zikhali says, “They do not have to reduce our struggle to be of just an SRC. We need to fight corruption and we need to root out corruption in that institution. We need to revive the institution to its former glory and we cannot accept the intolerable conditions that we are facing in that university.”

“As students we have questionable degrees; for instance last year we had a problem with safety and security. Part of the initiative that we agreed on was to say we want lights on campus and off-campus, there was a tender that was issued even today lights do not come on, the tender has concluded its business, but there are live cables dangling out which is part of what compromises students’ safety and security,” adds Zikhali.

Nzimande raised a number of concerns over the current situation at the university.

“I am concerned that there is no SRC at the university. Fortunately both sides agreed that a process needs to be put in place because the fact that there is no SRC functioning means the students are not represented. For example on the university council, the one matter that has been of concern to me is the number of institutions not just the University of Zululand sometimes disputes of students who have been to the university for a very long time.

“We agree with all the management of institutions that this thing of having students who are in the ninth year doing a three year degree is not just acceptable and they cannot be part of the deal,”

Nzimande is expected to facilitate a meeting between the University of Zululand Management and students to try and find solutions on the ongoing impasse later this week.