The country’s biggest trade union federation the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) has condemned the student protests at the University of Namibia (Unam), saying they were deliberately designed to disrupt education.
NUNW president Ismael Kasuto yesterday said: “To hijack education in an attempt to bring the country to a standstill as alluded to in the media by the student leadership is an irresponsible act that will not be beneficial to anybody in this country.”
Protests – which also took place at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) – were led by the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso).
“We must not deny people education as leaders and also not hijack students into the darkness of the unknown,” said Kasuto in an interview.
Kasuto said although the federation believes that the students’ demands are reasonable, the timing seems to be miscalculated as it was supposed to be clustered and forwarded for consideration before the budget approval.
“Our backbone as a country will be determined by the level of literacy; hence the need to fast-track consultations on the structured subsidised education programme at tertiary level that will grant every qualifying student an opportunity to study,” Kasuto said.
He said NUNW shall always respect and promote any Namibian’s right to strike as a last resort, as enshrined in the country’s constitution.
“That is subject to an orderly structural approach with clear measured objectives in wanting a solution during consultations within the confines of our laws,” he stressed.
According him, Namibians must embrace the culture of collective and orderly constructive consultations.
The High Court on Tuesday ordered Nanso, its president, secretary general and any students acting under their leadership to end the “unlawful protest”, which started on Monday with protesters blocking the entrance to Unam.
Nanso, which also led a protest at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) last week, is calling for the abolition of registration fees and the writing off of all student debts at both public tertiary institutions.