WILD: UNISWA students during one of their demonstrations against government and the administration.
It was all drama and pandemonium on Sunday night when students who had attended a joint-student meeting at UNISWA, Kwaluseni campus, came face-to-face and clashed with police from the Operational Support Services Unit (OSSU).
The armed military police had to fire warning shots to prevent students from marching through the night from Kwaluseni to deliver a petition to the ministry of labour.
The petition revolves around issues of allowances that have not been paid to some students.
The resolution to march through the night was taken at the meeting called by the Student Representative Council (SRC) under the leadership of Sibusiso Siyaya.
It was on Sunday night.
During this meeting, students were expecting to be addressed on issues affecting them, including updates on the upcoming Inter-varsity Games, allowances and other matters.
The meeting came at a time when the university had just opened and students were worried that the issue of reinstating allowances back to E26 000 was not being addressed fully by government.
The meeting became disorderly after a misunderstanding between the students and the SRC.
Students were not happy with the updates being given by the SRC as they felt they were not given enough information as regards the forthcoming inter-varsity games where the University of Swaziland will be the host.
The students were also not happy as they alleged their president Siyaya did not give them adequate information on the issue of Ayanda Mkhabela, the student who was injured during a strike at the university premises.
The meeting ended in confusion as students stated they will walk to Mbabane on foot through the night.
Students labelled the meeting as the worst joint gathering in the history of the University. Some students blamed the president for not coming out clear pertaining to their allowances or where they are currently being held up.
Siyaya said if students were to decide to boycott classes on the following day and go to Mbabane, there will be no buses to ferry them from their respective campuses.
Siyaya is said to have informed students this was because their resolve was at short notice. Students are said to have vowed they will rather walk to Mbabane on foot if there are no buses.
They stated that by dawn they would have reached Mbabane. Information gathered is that students embarked on the long walk on foot, intending to deliver their grievances to the ministry of labour.
At Mahhala shopping complex, it is said the students who were chanting political songs were met by the armed police and warning shots were fired as the police tried to disperse the rowdy students.
The students were intercepted by the police while walking down the road next to Gwamile VOCTIM, leading to the Mahhala shopping complex.
It is said that about three warning shots were fired by the police as they dispersed the students.
The students were then forced to return back to Kwaluseni campus. It is said violence erupted at the campus as some students broke down doors and windows out of anger.
It is alleged that as students made their way into the institution, they were also involved in an altercation with the guards at the gate. Students are said to have vandalised property, including the guards’ house, located at the gate.
The students also blocked the road with burning tyres.
…Picket all night after way to Mbabane blocked
Hunger stricken University of Swaziland students picketed all night following delay in the release of their allowances.
The students started indicating before the second semester resumed that they would boycott lectures if they were not all given their allowances by the end of the first week of lectures.
The students, however, did not boycott classes, instead on Sunday night after their first joint meeting at Kwaluseni Campus took a resolution to not wait for daylight to go to the ministry of labour offices in Mbabane to petition the minister to release all outstanding allowances and furthermore to implement recommendations made by parliament.
Speaking to this publication, Students Representative Council (SRC) President Sibusiso Siyaya, said the students are hungry and tired of government’s excuses.
“As an SRC we can only do so much, we tried to calm the students and asked them to allow us as their leaders to continue dealing with the matter but they would hear none of that as they made a resolution to petition the ministry,” he said.
Siyaya stated that during the meeting, the students resolved to deliver a petition during the night and if there was no one at the ministry offices they would look for the minister’s house.
“Some suggested we go to the minister’s home to deliver the petition,” he said.
Siyaya explained that what angered the students is government’s divide and conquer strategy they used year after year.
“The students are unhappy with how the government chooses to give some their dues as they feel this is a strategy to divide them as some will feel no need to strike because they already have their allowances,” he said.
He added the SRC, last week Friday, had made attempts to meet with Minister of Labour and Social Security Winnie Magagula but when they got to the office they were told she was attending a special cabinet meeting.
“We were hoping we could address these issues with her,” he said.
The students are demanding that government pays-up all outstanding allowances and also implement recommendations made by parliament with regard to the 60 per cent cut on allowances.
The recommendation was that students be given back the 60 per cent as the money they were getting now was too little to cater for all their needs.
The students were happy with this recommendation and had expected this would be implemented at the start of the on-going academic calendar.
Siyaya said the 60 per cent cut was a thorny issue because what they were getting currently was very little and they had to leave off loan sharks or worse get blessers.
“We have no choice but to go to loans sharks or for the ladies blessers,’ he said.
UNISWA top brass held hostage until morning
UNISWA senior management spent the whole night at the institution’s premises following the decision by the students to picket and in the process vandalise the institution’s property.
The management, which came to the institution to try and calm the situation down, was forced to spend the night within the premises as the students continued with their business at the institution gate.
At this time, the management had asked the Royal Swaziland Police to ensure that the students abstaining from the activities and property within the premises were protected and kept safe from those barring them from entering the campus gate.
The senior management was therefore grounded within the campus until 3.45am yesterday when the students dispersed as no one was allowed in or out the gate.
UNISWA Registrar Dr Salebona Simelane confirmed they were at the institution until 3.45am.
“We came to try and calm the situation as soon as we heard about it, however, things were heated up so we sought assistance from the Royal Swaziland Police,” he said.
Dr Simelane explained that they had sought help from the police to keep those inside and the institution’s property safe as the students had already started damaging it.
Students back to their senses, attend lectures
After spending the whole night picketing outside the main campus gate, Uniswa students were back in class yesterday.
The students, who had resolved the previous night at their joint body meeting to not only deliver a petition at the ministry of labour at night but also boycott their lectures until their allowances were fully paid, were yesterday back in class.
The students, during their meeting, had vowed they will not be returning to class because they were hungry and there was nothing they could grasp on empty stomachs.
SRC President Sibusiso Siyaya said the students had opted to go back to class because they feared the University would close down and they didn’t want to miss out on class time.
“We want the allowances but our education is a priority so we don’t want to miss out on class time hence after much consideration and deliberations through the night, we saw it best that we return to class,” he said.
Siyaya pointed out that going back to class didn’t mean they would stop fighting for what was theirs but they would be using other tactics.
“We appreciate the minister of labour’s open door policy and in the meantime will explore that,” he said.