Calm returns to Unam after High Court ruling

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Windhoek

Following Tuesday’s lockdown by the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) at the University of Namibia (Unam) over the payment of registration fees and writing off students’ debt, operations at Unam are now back to normal after the High Court ruled in Unam’s favour against the protesters.

Unam’s main campus came to a standstill on Tuesday, as university staff were locked out by Nanso leadership and a handful of Unam students who blocked all the entrances to the university.

Recent protests at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) and at Unam were replicated from the #FEESMUSTFALL initiative of students at South African universities displeased with a planned increase in tuition fees.

When New Era visited Unam yesterday, all entrances were open and operations were back to normal especially the registration process, which students wanted to boycott.Law and order could be observed as students queued up to register.

Some students said they were glad that the protest did not last long, as it could have delayed registration and ultimately their classes.

The cashier points could also be seen clearly marked out, and students seemed not to mind to pay the N$3 550 registration fee.

Unam spokesperson John Haufiku confirmed that everything was back to normal.
The university averted revenue losses of up to N$156 million in registration fees when they dragged Nanso, which led the protests against registration fees, to court.

Nanso leaders were summoned to court yesterday afternoon where they were served with an interdict to stop them from conducting any further protest campaign and lockdown at the main campus, without following proper and lawful procedures as set out in the university’s legislation, policies and grievance procedures.

Following a four-hour hearing Judge Shafimana Uietele on Tuesday night ordered Nanso, its president, secretary general and any students acting under their leadership to end the “unlawful protest”, which started with protesters blocking the entrance to the university.

The judge granted Unam a temporary interdict and said the three main respondents have until 9h00 on February 22 to show why the order should not be made final. The order came into effect immediately.

Nanso led a similar lockdown at NUST a week ago, calling for the abolishment of registration fees and the writing off of all student debts at both public tertiary institutions.

Unam students currently owe the university around N$84.5 million, while NUST students owe about N$50 million.
The Minister of Higher Education, Dr Itah Kandji-Murangi, last week agreed to write off student debts for both public tertiary institutions, but she did not agree to scrap registration fees.

NUST’s vice-chancellor Dr Tjama Tjivikua also shot down students’ demands that registration fees be abolished, saying such a move would bring the institution to its knees financially.

Unam, however, is still waiting for clarity from the Ministry of Higher Education regarding the decision to write off students’ debts.

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