MUT students suspend protests ahead of talks with varsity management

Students protest for increased government funding for tertiary education at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) on 8 April 2021 in Durban, South Africa. According to media reports, the students are demanding the scrapping historical debt and financial exclusion, as well as access to free registration, computers and data. (Photo by Gallo Images/Darren Stewart)

  • Students at the Mangosuthu University of Technology in Durban have suspended their protest.
  • They engaged in protests this week, citing slow registration processes.
  • Workers at the university have also joined the protest with their own set of demands.

Student leaders at the Mangosuthu University of Technology in Durban have suspended protests, pending negotiations this weekend.

“The strike has been suspended because of the negotiations taking place. We are trying to deliberate our issues as students. We are told they [management] will hear us out and address our issues,” said student representative council head Mthokosizi Gumede.

The suspension comes after violent unrest at the Umlazi based university located south of the city where students and police clashed on several occasions this week.

At least one person has been arrested and charged with public violence following clashes on Thursday where police used a water cannon and stun grenades to disperse students.

According to Gumede, the provincial government, office of the education MEC and the premier were assisting in finding a resolution.

“The MEC for education and premiers office are also listening to what we are saying.”

However, he warned that if negotiations did not go well, there would be more protests.  

“Our protest is in the way of them having the registration process. If things do not go well with negotiations, we will continue with our strike on Monday.”

ALSO READ | MUT protests: Staff demand salary increases, students want smoother registration process

MUT’s workers have also embarked on the strike, together with students, saying management was “arrogant”.

Nehawu branch secretary Linda Zama said they were calling for a 12% increase across the board, with a fallback of 8%.

“We also said staff [should be] eligible to convert to permanent posts after more than two years. [In] January 2020 and 2021 it never happened. It is a council resolution that every employee on contract at MUT must be made permanent provided here for more than two years.”

Students said that the registration process was inefficient, with Gumede alleging that only 2 000 students were registered, with 9 000 more still waiting in the wings. He said they were also calling for free registration.

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