Staff protest and students boycott Eastcape Midlands TVET College

Unions and student organisations want lifestyle audit of college management

Photo of protesters

Protestors march to Eastcape Midlands TVET College accusing management of racism, nepotism and corruption. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

By Thamsanqa Mbovane

16 March 2020

On Friday afternoon, over 300 protesters and National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) members marched through Uitenhage to Eastcape Midlands TVET College (EMC) Bricksfield campus.

The march was supported by South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) and South African Students Congress Organisation (SASCO).

In a memorandum to the Department of Higher Education and Training, the protesters complained of racism, nepotism, fraud and corruption.

Luvuyo Ngubelanga, from the office of Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande, surrounded by armed security guards, accepted the memo.

Councillor Lunga Nombexeza, regional secretary of South African Communist Party (SACP), standing on the back of a pickup truck, said, “We want to see the qualifications of all the people inside this institution. We also want an audit of their lifestyle … They are thieves.”

“We also want to see a report from supply chain management … stating who benefits from tenders and from where are they from.”

Nkcubeko Madlalisa, regional secretary of SASCO, shouted to the crowd: “Rise TVET sector rise!”

“The instability within this institution never started this year or last year,” he said. “Instead, it is increasing, day in, day out, because the management is refusing to sit with the leadership and find a solution … That is why today you see this chaos.”

“If there is no money to pay us accommodation allowances, where is the money coming from to pay security guards during protests?” he asked.

Ngubelanga said he would pass the memo on to Nzimande.

Principal Charl van Heerden said the memorandum was addressed to the Department of Higher Education and Training and not the Eastcape Midlands College (EMC).

On Monday, teaching remained disrupted by the ongoing student boycott although staff had returned to work.