The newly-elected student representative council (SRC) chair at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus is determined to champion students’ rights.
As the youngest to occupy the position of SRC chairperson, Siyabonga Mlondo, believes he has a tough job ahead in addressing long-standing student issues but says he won't let that discourage him.
Speaking to the The Witness following his appointment, Mlondo (20) highlighted some of the challenges the SRC hoped to overcome next year. He said there was a need to transform the campus health system and UKZN at large, to deal with the scourge of the coronavirus. Mlondo said a clinic inside the Pietermaritzburg campus was closed due to the lack of human resources and equipment.
“As the elected chairperson, under the banner of the Economic Freedom Fighters Student Council, we are clear on opening the campus clinic for 24 hours. We will also be pushing the institution to hire more nurses and doctors. They must also be the doctors that graduated from UKZN because we believe that you can’t produce something that you can’t utilise,” said Mlondo.
He said he wanted the university to get an ambulance to be stationed on campus throughout the day in order to respond to health emergencies.
Mlondo said the SRC also wanted something to be done about the poor internet connection. He said at the moment it was slow or disconnected occasionally.
He added they aim to get 20 gigabytes of anytime and 10 gigabytes of night data to students. “We believe there are no lectures at night so we should be getting more data during the day than at night, but currently it’s the other way around.”
Mlondo said it was also concerning that since the start of Covid-19, students had been subjected to “disastrous” registration periods due to the shortage of administration staff at UKZN.
“We are clear that the university should hire at least one to 10 masters and doctorate black South African students per school.
“This means, since humanities has six schools, the university can hire five students per school to help with the registration. That would create 30 jobs for students,” he said.
Mlondo also proposed that the university’s postgraduate research submission date must be extended to January. He said this was because the postgraduate students still needed to raise funds to pay for editors to check their work as many of them were unemployed. “We are hopeful that things are going to turn around, going forward,” he said.