Strikes have hit the newly established University of Mpumalanga’s (UMP) Siyabuswa campus. There have also been threats to start strike action at the Mbombela campus.

After the university failed to pay students their monthly stipends and to hire a campus manager at the Siyabusa campus, students shut down campus, preventing academic staff and construction workers from entering since last week Thursday (May 7), News24 reports. The stipends were meant to be paid out as part of students’ Fundza Lushaka bursaries.

Student representative council chairperson Khulekani Mabuza has accused the University of making empty promises. “We started engaging the management in February but they have been making empty promises to solve the issues,” Mabuza said. He also states that they will not stop striking until their demands are met.

UMP Vice Chancellor Professor Thoko Mayekiso said the university is not aware of any unpaid stipends, according to News24.

“The students need the funds as their pocket money; we have since taken a decision [in the meantime] to pay the money from our funds,” said Mayekiso. The funds would then be replaced once the department of education has allocated money to them.

Mbombela campus threatens to take strike action

Meanwhile, the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) have threatened to strike over pension funds, medical aid benefits, accrued leave and housing allowances.

“Here we have our members who have worked for more than 30 years and there’s already one who has moved out of the system and has no pension.”

The affected workers at the Mbombela campus were transferred from the Lowveld Agricultural College, which was run by the Mpumalanga Department of Agriculture was absorbed by the university this year. 

Nehawu provincial secretary Sizwe Motha says that there has been no clear process and transparency in the process “there was no good transition when the staff moved from the Lowveld Agricultural College to the University of Mpumalanga”.

Motha also added, “Here we have our members who have worked for more than 30 years and there’s already one who has moved out of the system and has no pension.”

Both the Sol Plaatjie University in Northern Cape and Mpumalanga University opened in 2014 as the first post-apartheid universities.

Currently, the University of Mpumalanga has three hundred and seven students enrolled for qualifications in agriculture, hospitality management, information communication technology and education.

*Sourced from News24