State Media|STUDENTS at Lupane State University (LSU) on Wednesday staged a demonstration blocking the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway protesting against lack of food, electricity and water at a time when lecturers were on strike.
They used stones and tree branches to block traffic on the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway causing a traffic jam on Wednesday afternoon in reaction to a strike by academic and non-academic staff which had entered the third day leaving them stranded.
Members of staff at the institution downed tools on Monday protesting alleged “incapacitation” and this left students stranded after closure of the canteen.
A power failure in Lupane also compounded the situation as there was no water, electricity and internet services prompting students to take to the streets.
They started singing and toyi toying on campus and moved to the main road where they were later dispersed by police in the evening.
The students complained that besides missing on lectures, buying food from private caterers at Lupane centre was expensive for them.
“We haven’t learnt anything since the semester started in July because lectures have been on and off. Exams will be starting soon and we don’t even know what we are going to write since we didn’t learn anything. As if that’s not enough, they all abandoned us at the campus which is why we had to demonstrate,” said a student on condition of anonymity.
LSU director of marketing and communication Mr Zwelithini Dlamini yesterday confirmed the students’ demonstration and staff industrial action.
He however said management had engaged the disgruntled parties and staff members had returned to work yesterday.
“Workers’ representatives for both academic and non-academic staff communicated last Friday that they would not be able to report for duty for three days starting on Monday because of incapacitation.
“The three days they had indicated lapsed yesterday and they are now back at work while management continues engaging them,” said Mr Dlamini.
He said the strike by staff members contributed to the students’ demonstration.
“Students have not been learning which is a cause for concern because they are here to learn. Frequent power outages also affected water supply and internet services on campus while closure of the dining hall incapacitated students.
“As a remedy we tried bringing outside caterers to serve them but obviously the issue of pricing remained a cause for concern because they could not lower prices to what students could afford,” said Mr Dlamini.
“Students became impatient on the third day and they barricaded the highway causing a traffic jam. We engaged them because they were now taking their anger to the wrong people and they understood and cleared the road.”
He said a way forward is being worked on regarding lost learning time and possibly having exams written at an appropriate time.