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The university of boycotts

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MBABANE – Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in Mbabane has recorded at least 20 protests since its inception in April, 2010.

Astoundingly, the first of these was staged just a few days of the university’s existence.

The institution of higher learning was only officially opened on May 23, 2011 but the months that followed proved a handful for the administration, as students would stage class-boycotts and protests, demanding that certain issues affecting their welfare be addressed.

At present, the institution is currently closed after students engaged in a protest action to force government to release payment of their living allowances.

Just this past Wednesday, the students gave government a seven-day ultimatum to act on their concerns.

Officials at the institution were non-committal on the possible cause of the protests but they admitted that the status quo has not augured well in the advancement of the university goals.

"It is only natural that such would have a negative impact on the operations of the university but please pardon me for now, I cannot be in a position to say anything further. I have only started work today, I was away for a while," said Welile Dlamini, the Assistant Campus Manager.

Zachariah Mthethwa, Campus Manager could not be reached for comment.

He was called about three times on Friday but would not respond, and another attempt was made yesterday but still, he did not pick up the phone.

Students, on the other hand, believe that the upsurge in outbursts of dissent at the university revolves more than anything around the prevailing conception of power in our society, whereby power is still perceived in terms of dominance and subservience.

Mthunzi Maziya, Students Representative Council member in the Social Welfare portfolio, said under the prevailing circumstances there was no room for open communication lines leading to a situation whereby decisions were arbitrarily taken.

"When you keep forcing decisions on people, chances are, they may reject your initiatives because you did not involve them in the first place. Also when you have a government that keeps making promises which are never fulfilled, it implies that there is a serious problem; one that even raises questions on how responsive the incumbent system of government is towards people’s needs," he said.

Maziya said government officials have developed a nonchalant attitude towards students, whenever there are grievances they raise.

"Usually these grievances do not just prop-up from nowhere but are a result of broken promises. Government has developed the tendency of undertaking promises, which they later renege from only to shift blame to the disgruntled party when eventually approached on the breach," he said.

He suggested a shift from the prevailing conception of power as implying that someone should be giving out orders or taking decisions without the people actually intended for the decisions. Maziya vouched for a collaborative and cooperative style of power, where people at the helm will avoid being judgemental and instead address issues according to the facts available.

Lutfo Dlamini, Minister of Labour and Social Security, said despite the problems that have riddled the institution, government believes Limkokwing is going to be one of the best universities in the country.

He said students should learn to engage in dialogue instead of quickly resorting to boycotting classes and taking to the streets.

"Everyone knows that ever since government encountered the economic crisis in recent years, there has been a cash-flow problem and this is not only confined to students’ allowances but cuts across all governmental departments. So, it wouldn’t be fair for the students to quickly say government does not keep its promises, we do all in our reach to come up with the best solution," he said. Dlamini also said the delays at times are caused by failure by the students to sign their agreement forms on time.

 

 He said the agreement forms the basis of the contract with government, and scholarships cannot be released without students having appended their signatures on these. He advised them to quickly facilitate this process before even thinking about blaming government for delays.

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