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Upholding UKZN Future: Battling Property Burning and Violent Protests

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Upholding UKZN Future: Battling Property Burning and Violent Protests

Upholding UKZN Future: Battling Property Burning and Violent Protests. In recent times, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has been grappling with a menacing issue that threatens its very survival – violent protests leading to the destruction of university property.

The recurrent disruptions to the academic calendar and the consequential burning of valuable assets have ignited concerns about the sustainability of UKZN. It is imperative for both educational institutions and law enforcement agencies to take an uncompromising stance against these acts of violence for the long-term well-being of the university and its community. NSFAS Application Status Check Now.

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Understanding the Crisis

The distressing pattern of academic disruptions and the wanton destruction of university infrastructure, such as the recent fire at the William O’Brien (WOB) examination venue, signifies a grave threat to the stability of UKZN. These incidents are often attributed to individuals purporting to be students who protest against administrative changes, as seen in the recent protests against the new payment system implemented by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

The new payment scheme, which delegates payment management to NSFAS-appointed suppliers, has inadvertently exposed universities to unwarranted risk. Protests against perceived inadequacies in this new system have led to allegations of reduced allowances and even student evictions due to non-payment of rent. The recent fire at the examination venue underscores the gravity of the situation, marking the second such incident within a single month.

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Escalating Tensions and Destructive Strategies

The unrest has escalated to a point where university vehicles, including those belonging to the Student Representative Council (SRC), have been set ablaze. Alongside arson, university buildings have been targeted with stone-throwing acts of vandalism. The EFF Student Command’s public statement opposing class continuation due to unmet demands has often been a precursor to mass gatherings and subsequent protests.

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Interestingly, the EFF’s response to these events, or rather the lack thereof, raises questions. Their “Six Ds and an O” strategy – characterized by disrupt, distract, divide, destabilize, dislodge, destroy, and occupy – seems evident, yet their silence on potential involvement of their members in destructive activities is conspicuous.

University’s Condemnation and Misguided Dialogue

University spokesperson Normah Zondo has been resolute in condemning the violence, emphasizing its contradiction with the institution’s core academic mission. Zondo’s words hold weight as the destruction of university assets clashes with the fundamental purpose of these institutions, which is to provide an environment conducive to learning and growth.

While the university’s willingness to engage in dialogue with student leaders and peaceful stakeholders is commendable, historical precedent raises doubts about the efficacy of such endeavors. Past protests have often used violence as a tool to push for unreasonable concessions, undermining the legitimacy of dialogue-based resolutions.

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Legacy of Chaos and Financial Strain

Looking back at the “Fees Must Fall” protests of 2015-2016, UKZN bore a financial burden of R262 million due to resultant damages. These protests have moved beyond the realm of legitimate dissent and have been likened to organized criminal activities by some experts.

The idea of free education, once hailed as a solution, has proven to be fraught with inconsistencies and inefficiencies. Negotiating with those who employ hooliganism as a tactic has repeatedly shown itself to be a futile exercise, depriving genuine students of their right to education and discouraging potential investors from engaging with higher education institutions.

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Urgent Call for Resolute Action

The time has come for UKZN, along with law enforcement agencies, to take an unwavering stance against violent protests. The example set by the City of Cape Town in dealing with unruly taxi operators is a model worth emulating. Zero tolerance for property damage and disruption, while upholding the rule of law, is the need of the hour.

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Failure to take decisive action could sound the death knell for UKZN’s future. It is imperative for authorities to resist bowing to pressures exerted by hooligans. Succumbing to such tactics would only contribute to the downfall of our nation, both educationally and socially.

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