NMMU remains closed, student divisions prevent resolution of protest

SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) will remain closed on Tuesday after efforts by its management on Monday to end the protests facing the higher education sector since last week Monday, when Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande’s announced fees recommendations for 2017, proved yet again unsuccessful.

Compounding the situation at the NMMU is divisions 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.

Howver, by Wednesday last week, it emerged that the SRC was no longer part of the coalition. At close of business on Friday, NMMU had received petitions from four different student formations in Port Elizabeth and George, and responded to each by Sunday evening.

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.

On Monday, the NMMU held meetings with two student formations in George, and one at the Kraal on the South Campus in Port Elizabeth. The SRC also held a public meeting at the city hall where things did not go so well.

The NMMU has been closed since Wednesday last week.

"At the meeting in the Kraal it soon became apparent that the students present were not prepared to accede to management’s request that the university re-open, while engagements continue," the university said.

"The executive of the SRC approached NMMU management later in the day, advising them of their call for students to return to classes tomorrow (Tuesday)."

Decision

In light of the above events, and the present escalating protests, tensions and violence within the sector, which has seen many universities closed for more than a week, the NMMU management felt it cannot safely resume operations. To this end, the operations and academic activities of NMMU will remain suspended until further notice.

Issues

"Many of the issues raised by the various student groupings are beyond NMMU’s ambit and certainly cannot be resolved in a short period of time," the university said.

"Others, unique to NMMU, such as its debt and down payment relief interventions, will be engaged with in consultation with students by reconvening the multi-stakeholder Financial Aid Task Team that has been functioning since the end of 2015."

Way forward

"We will further share contingency plans in respect of the way forward, as it is still our hope to complete the 2016 academic year as planned.

"The decision to suspend University operations until further notice was not taken lightly. We recognise that it is far from ideal, especially given the present anxieties of staff, students and their families," it said.