Students of the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) in the Eastern Cape have vowed to make the province ungovernable if government does not intervene in the institution’s protracted strike by the lecturers and administration staff.
Lecturers and administration staff at the university are demanding a salary increase of 8% to 10%, while the university’s offer is just over 4%.
This resulted in a stalemate that has lasted five weeks without any learning taking place at WSU’s six campuses.
Students also criticised President Jacob Zuma and his administration for not intervening in what they deemed a crisis.
Ngobe Lali, president of the Student Representative Council, said Zuma and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande should have intervened in WSU a long time ago.
“If we were in Nkandla he would have been here. President Jacob Zuma personally went to the University of Zululand and intervened there. Just recently he intervened in a water crisis at a university of privileged people [Rhodes], but has not given us the time of day because we are children of the poor,” said Lali to loud applaud from fellow students.
Lali, a second-year student in management training, said students would make sure they protest on all six campuses until their demands are met.
“We call on the government to do something about this impasse between our lecturers and their employers. We are going to protest every day until we are taught,” Lali said.
Today, hundreds of students at the Buffalo City Campus marched from their residences at Southernwood to the university’s campus in East London, Eskom House, to register their grievances.
They say they only have one demand: “We are tired of waking up every morning and going back to bed in the evening without doing a thing, we want to go back in classes and to learn,” said Loyiso Nyembezi, a third-year human resource development student.
“We have been sitting in our campuses all this time hoping that the management and the staff will find each other, but that has not happened. Today we are saying enough is enough,” said Nyembezi.
In a statement, WUS said: “WSU management appreciates the fact that staff are deserving of an increase in 2013. However, the future financial sustainability of the university will be in jeopardy if an unaffordable increase is granted.”
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