Thursday, September 24, 2020

Second strike at UB not ruled out

The unresolved matters between the students of the University of Botswana (UB) and the Ministry of Education (MoE) are likely to climax in yet another strike once students resume classes.

The school had recently been shut down by the vice chancellor, Bojosi Otlhogile, due to the strike arising from student clashes with the ministry.
Otlhogile then expelled two members of the Student Representative Council (SRC) and suspended the rest.

The two expelled students then decided to challenge the grounds stated as reasons for their dismissal in court.
Judge Unity Dow of the High Court in Lobatse ruled to reinstate the expelled SRC vice president, Molatedi Kgotla, and the Minister of Bar and Canteen, Gomolemo Kemotho.

Justice Dow termed their expulsions “unprocedural and therefore unlawful”.
UB is due to open on February 16, amidst a frustrated student body and Education Ministry.

What remains to be seen is whether the students will give in or if the ministry and the students will finally reach a level of mutual understanding.

“We can not rule out the possibility of another strike because that is not our choice to make. We are the voice of the students; our job is to carry out their will. But firstly we are committed to do our best in negotiating with the ministry on the students’ behalf,” said the vice president.

In a letter sent to one of the expelled members, the vice-chancellor accused them of disrupting lessons, threatening violence against other students and lecturers and, lastly, of leading a mob of students.

Despite the Ministry of Education’s firm stand that it will not change its position regarding its new policies implemented at UB, the students are adamant that negotiations between the two parties should resume as soon as possible because the students are restless.

“As it stands, the issues that students have raised to the ministry are still unsolved and that means that the Ministry and the students should reach an understanding soon; the school is opening on the 16th and no efforts to tackle the students’ concerns have been made by the Ministry,” said Kgotla.

The two expelled students were represented by lawyer Joe Akonyetsa.

Meanwhile, the union of lecturers and UB staff are calling for the removal of Otlhogile as vice-chancellor and are contesting his decision to close down the school without proper prior notice.
The union recently came out in support of the reinstatement of the two leaders, saying that the vice-chancellor should have tried other means of communicating with the staff and the students instead of closing the school.

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