Hifikepunye Pohamba Campus lockdown flops

28 Jan 2016 11:00am
ONGWEDIVA, 28 JAN (NAMPA) - About 30 students on Tuesday tried to lock senior University of Namibia (UNAM) staff members outside the institution’s premises in Ongwediva in protest against high student registration fees.
This protest happened at almost the same time a lockdown took place at the UNAM main campus in Windhoek and the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) on Thursday last week. Students campaigned for a decrease or total scrap of registration fees.
At the Hifikepunye Pohamba Campus in Ongwediva, students from other UNAM Northern campuses such as Oshakati Nursing Campus, Eduardo dos Santos University of Engineering and Information Technology as well as the Ogongo Agricultural University also demanded an abolishment of registration fees.
The students started the protest at around 05h00 but could not go on for very long as the Police were called to the scene to maintain order.
Over 10 police vans filled with police officers arrived at the scene, forcing students to move away from the institution’s main entrance. The students continued protesting from the other side of the road, but were once again ordered to disperse.
Among the protesters was UNAM Northern Campus Student Representative Council vice-president Petrus Shiweva, who expressed anger and demanded that students be allowed to register for free.
“We are tired of the increasing student fees annually, and thus we kindly demand that the UNAM management abolish registration fees and to write off all student debts,” he exclaimed.
Shiweva said not everyone is able to afford registration fees, which causes some students to put their studies on hold until they are able to pay the required fees. He stated that this affects people’s lives in such a way that most are forced to seek employment without having completed their studies.
“We will not stop fighting for free registration fees for students. We are still waiting for a response from the Ministry of Higher Education and if the response is ineffective, we will continue protesting,” he said.
Meanwhile, UNAM has refuted claims levelled against it by the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) that it is reluctant to register students who are unable to afford its registration fee.
Nanso on Monday issued a media statement accusing UNAM of being unwilling to adhere to a directive issued by the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation on 22 January 2016 that UNAM should allow students to register for free and clear their outstanding debt.
UNAM asserts that the directive is not clear on the payment of registration fees.
Speaking to Nampa on Tuesday, UNAM spokesperson, John Haufiku claimed that the letter does not specify which students at the institution should register for free.
“We have asked the ministry for clarity. The letter said in principle we should register students for free, but which students are we talking about - postgraduate students, undergraduate students, Namibian students, international students, or all students? The letter only said ‘students’,” said Haufiku.
On Tuesday, Nanso dragged UNAM to court, seeking a court approval to proceed with their campaign for a varsity lockdown at the UNAM main campus. However, Judge Shafimana Ueitele ruled in favour of UNAM and ordered Nanso to end the “unlawful” and “un-procedural” protest.