'Classes' again suspended at NMMU, hints on mediation making headway

OCTOBER 26, 2016

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) says academic business will again be suspended on Wednesday owing to the ongoing mediation process between the university and its stakeholders, who include concerned parents and student leaders. However, the university hinted on what might be some progress towards re-opening the academic year in a brief statement to students.

"The mediation has reached a point at which the issues mediated need to be presented at a mass meeting, which the FMF movement is arranging tomorrow [Wednesday]," the NMMU said in the statement.

"Classes will remain suspended for the day.

"Once again, thank you for your patience and resilience."

Despite the NMMU, which has been closed for over a month now, trying to engage students so that they can go back to class, concerned parents had formed an association to take the NMMU to court over its continued shutdown.

The Grahamstown High Court ordered that the NMMU and its various stakeholders, including CAPTU and the protesting students, had until the 13th of October to find common ground, with the aid of a professional mediator, before the courts can intervene. 

The parties failed to reach an agreement at that mediation.

However, the parents could not go back to court owing to an intedict taken out by the university.

It led to this second round of talks.

#FeesMustFallReloaded

#FeesMustFall protests broke out on the 19th of September across the country after the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, recommended an 8% fee increment for affording students.

Previously, the NMMU stated that if students do not return to class next week, it will be forced to shut down for the 2016 academic year.

That will effectively mean that students will have to repeat the year again in 2017 – a particularly stressful prospect, especially for paying parents as well as international students.

Several efforts to resolve the impasse at the NMMU have failed.

Different groups - different agendas

Preventing the speedy resolution to the impasse at the institution is that divisions have since emerged among the protesting students.

Various student groupings, including the Student Representative Council (SRC), initially formed a coalition to collectively voice their concerns in relation to the announcement, but were divided in their approach.

However, by the 21st of September, it emerged that the SRC was no longer part of the coalition. At the end of the week, the  NMMU had actually received petitions from four different student formations in Port Elizabeth and George, and responded to each.

Below are the four memoranda received from four student formations at NMMU being the SRC, the George Campus Student Council, the student FMF coalition in PE and the FMF movement on the George Campus.

The SRC also held a public meeting at the city hall where things did not go so well.