In a bid to end the deadlock incapacitating the operations at Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA) Student Representative Council and college officials are said to have reached a consensus.
According to information unearthed by this publication, school management was summoned by the Minister of Agriculture Patrick Ralotsia to resolve the issue before it gets out of hand. Ralotsia is said to have been advised to act swiftly as the strike was getting out of hand and the students might get motivation from the ongoing tertiary strike in South Africa, said a source. “There was concern that a third force might emerge which might spread the strike to other institutions who will be claiming to act in solidarity with BCA students, so the minister was advised to address the students’ issues,” the source said.
Acting President Mokgweetsi Masisi is said to have called the school management and asked to meet with them. BCA Public Relations Officer Onkgopotse Moreri confirmed that school management as well as SRC met with Ralotsia and managed to resolve the impasse that led to the strike. “Yes we met with Minister Ralotsia and the students’ concerns have been resolved especially the meal issue,” said Moreri.
Asked if it is true that Vice President Masisi wanted to meet with school management and students, Moreri answered in affirmative but said that the meeting has been postponed.
She revealed that students will report to school next week Monday and that their meal allowance will be credited into their accounts by the Department of Tertiary Education Financing (DTEF). “As per the agreement they will be refunded the meal allowances from the time they stopped eating from the refectory,” confirmed Moreri.
Initially BCA management refused to reimburse students meal allowances for the days they refused to eat at the refectory and told students that either they ate the meals prepared by Sthando Catering or forfeit their meal allowance. Another issue which Moreri said that have attended to is the Wi-Fi connections which SRC complained that it was slow and most cases not available at the hostels. The ablutions which were filthy and not working are also attended to by the maintenance department and that they have bought new mattress for students, revealed Moreri.
Realizing that the strike was getting out of hand, school management led by the acting Principal Dr Mataba Tapela closed the school and ordered the students to vacate the premises. At the meeting, Ralotsia is said to have advised the school management to put their act together especially on renovations of school buildings. Most of BCA buildings are said to be in a dilapidated state and after touring the school premises, Minister Ralotsia is said to have advised college management to make the renovations one of their first priorities.
SRC President Mbiganyi Taka confirmed that they met with college management and Minister Ralotsia and has signed a memorandum of understanding. “We have decided to halt the strike after our demands were addressed and met especially the meal issue and termination of catering contract with Sthando Catering Company,” said the elated Taka. He said that the ablutions have been renovated and are now working. Taka said their only worry is that the college management are reactionary and wait for students to revolt and that is when they address grievances.