Higher and Tertiary Education minister Stan Mudenge Monday said he stopped the move by Finance minister Tendai Biti to give loans and grants to university students because Biti did not follow procedure.
Mudenge told journalists in Harare yesterday Biti did not follow procedure when he announced his intention in Parliament.
“He (Biti) went to Parliament and announced that, but unfortunately, he had not consulted. He had not sat down with us. Whenever the Ministry of Education changes policy, we must consult the Council for Higher Education. It is their legal right to be consulted but that was not followed,” Mudenge said.
“If I thought it was a good idea, I had an obligation to go to Cabinet on the issue of going back to grants and loans. If Cabinet had agreed to that, I would have come back to the Ministry of Finance. That was the procedure we should have followed,” he said.
Mudenge said more than $13 million had not yet been paid for students who were set to benefit from the cadetship scheme last year.
“The result is as we sit in here now, there is nothing to support cadetship this year. This year we don’t have even a cent to pay but we have started to engage the Ministry of Finance,” he said.
Mudenge said government was not in a position to finance loans and grants.
He said he had however given an instruction to all principals in colleges that all admitted students should not be chased away for non-payment of fees. Mudenge lashed out at Biti saying he should stop issuing contradictory statements.
Mudenge’s statement has attracted the ire of students who yesterday said it was him (Mudenge) who was making their lives difficult.
Zimbabwe National Students’ Union spokesperson Kudakwashe Chakabva said Mudenge was trying to play cheap politics against Biti. He said students would not be hoodwinked and would continue to support Biti’s position.
“We are against Mudenge’s primitive cadetship scheme and we told him that when we met him recently,” he said.
“He wants to politicise the whole issue but we made it clear to him that the cadetship scheme was not viable.
He is trying and we think that is wrong. If they have differences with Biti they should solve their own problems without taking students for granted,” he said.
“As students we rally behind Biti’s idea of grants and loans for students,” he said.
Biti was not available for comment.