MZUNI students riot over allowances, engage police in running battles

Mzuzu University in northern Malawi was on the boil Monday morning when students protested against their delayed upkeep allowances and clashed with police who fired teargas shells to disperse them.

Tension prevailed on the campus as the angry students brought business to a standstill and boycotted classes forcing management to seek help from the law enforcers.

The protests, coming barely a week after the opening of the first semester, degenerated after students violently blocked the M1 Road, which connects Mzuzu City and Karonga and Rumphi Districts.

For about two hours, traffic in the main highway was disrupted as the rowdy students engaged riot police, who wanted to clear the road, into hardhearted running battles.

Mzuni protestors  barricade road
Mzuni protestors barricade road

Students pelted stones and any object around them on police, who retaliated with teargas shells in an attempt to bring sanity.

Despite assurances from the university management earlier in the day that the allowances would be ready in their respective bank accounts before end of business (Monday), the students maintained their stand not to resume classes until they were got their dues.

The students argued it was not possible to receive their allowances Monday through the banks because cheques take at least three days to be cleared by the banks.

However, one of MZUNI students’ union leaders, who opted for anonymity for fear of reprisal from fellow students, condemned the learners’ action while reminding them that payment of upkeep allowance is only made once registration of students is completed.

“Traditionally, this upkeep allowance is paid immediately the registration exercise of students is completed and as we are talking that process is still underway. Therefore, it is very premature for the students to start protesting now and demanding their upkeep allowances,” he explained.

But the students argue they have no where to access food as well as accommodation (for off-campus students) hence their demand to be sorted out.

Each off-campus student receives K40 000 a month while on-campus students get K35 000 every month for upkeep.

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