Students accuse government of insensitivity

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The arrest of 12 University of Zimbabwe students and their appearance in court on Monday has drawn a wide rift between students and government with the latter accusing the former of insensitivity and outright incompetence.

Students’ representatives from the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) said that government had failed to provide the basic constitutional right to education.

The students are Struan Gwekwerere, Amos Ushe, Michael Munodawafa, Tarisai Mukweba, Alfred Mundoko, Never Besa, Simbarashe Gava, Admire Masunda, Wellington Masuku, Tatenda Kangai, Thinkwell Gokuda and Elton Matarura.

They were arrested and detained at Avondale police station for five days. The lengthy detention was unlawful and a violation of human rights, according to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

The incident has angered students who have threatened to besiege the courts to demonstrate against abuse of student rights.

Attempts by the students to sneak into the examination hall with fake receipts led to their arrest by university guards.

“It must be a wakeup call to government that the situation in most colleges is dire. Government must act and stop putting a brave face when all is not well,” ZINASU said in a statement.

ZINASU Secretary for International Relations, Faith Chamba on Tuesday said that the arrest of the students was a sign that Zimbabwe had failed to address their concerns.

“These dubious fees are leading to such acts (sneaking into exam rooms and subsequent arrests) and yet there is no way we can raise such high fees. Education is our right but it is now being criminalised.”

Chamba said at least 60% of the students had been barred from writing examinations because they could not afford the required fees.

Kudakwashe Chakabva, spokesperson of a rival ZINASU faction said at least 70% of students had been shut out of colleges because they cannot settle last year’s fees and their results have been withheld. Their future had been ruined as a result.

“This makes education a preserve of the elite and government is doing nothing about it,” said Chakabva.

Government claims that many students did not take heed of the cadetship programme whereby they could access ready loans for fees which they would repay when they eventually got employed.

But sources in tertiary institutions have revealed that government had failed to make available the cadetship loans promised last year.

Thousands of students applied for the scheme last year but sources in most colleges revealed that most of them were yet to collect results because government was yet to release the funds.