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KZN Premier Zikalala establishes task team to intervene in student protests

The premier said he met with UKZN management and student representatives on Friday and established that both parties had been stubborn during their negotiations but this was now being resolved.

FILE: KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala in the provincial legislature on 22 May 2019. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

DURBAN - KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala on Tuesday said he had established a task team to intervene in the ongoing unrest at universities across the province.

The start of the 2020 academic year at various tertiary institutions, in particular the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), were hampered by violent protests as students differed with management over fees, accommodation, and historical debt.

Zikalala said he met with UKZN management and student representatives on Friday and established that both parties had been stubborn during their negotiations but this was now being resolved.

The premier said the provincial Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu was assigned to monitor the situation at UKZN as well as find a lasting solution to the impasse. Zikalala said progress was being made.

“The team is working and interacting with management and students, and we believe soon we will find a solution,” Zikalala said.

Meanwhile, the university’s vice-chancellor Professor Nana Poku said damage to property during this year’s protests was estimated at R31 million.

On Monday night, an urgent council meeting was convened to address student's demands.

The Student Representative Council’s Sifiso Simelane said they were happy with some of the progress made and looked forward to another meeting on Thursday.

The meeting was expected to involve various stakeholders including the premier’s office and where they hoped long-term solutions would be established.