The Acting President of the University of Botswana Student Representative Council Dikotla Dikotla has criticized the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology for meddling in the University of Botswana (UB) student affairs issues. This comes after the Ministry issued a statement on Thursday accusing UB students of planning to disrupt classes. In the press release, the ministry states that students had planned to cause some disturbances in protest against the ministry for failing to pay their living allowance for February 2017 in time. While Dikotla agrees that they had indeed held demonstrations during the week to register their displeasure, he said that the demonstrations were peaceful and never disruptive. “Students who had classes were not forced to participate in the demonstrations, hence no classes were disrupted,” said Dikotla.
Permanent Secretary Dr Theophillus Mooko has said in a statement that “the decision by the UB SRC to take the route that they pursued was uncalled for as they are very much familiar with the process that has to be followed before student allowances can be paid and as such should have managed the student community accordingly”. The UB SRC Acting President does not share the same sentiments. According to Dikotla, they have somehow managed to get a somehow positive response as a result of their demonstrations. He points out that some students were paid their allowances following the demonstrations and the UB Vice Chancellor agreed to meet with the SRC to heed to their complaints.
Dikotla said they have long wanted the Vice Chancellor to meet them but in vain. “The Vice Chancellor always addresses UB staff in general meetings but never afforded students the same gesture. We believe this meeting is long overdue but couldn’t have come at the right time,” said the Acting president.
He observed that some of the issues that are of concern to the students besides delayed allowances include on-campus student accommodation, students welfare, issues surrounding the cafeteria and skyrocketing prices at the university bookstore. These issues, he said, can be addressed by the Vice Chancellor without any intervention from the ministry. “We appreciate that because UB is a parastatal, the ministry will always have interest in it but we believe they should leave UB management to address internal issues with the student body,” he said.