State intelligence operatives, police and soldiers should be ejected from institutions of higher learning, unless they are students, as their heavy presence at universities and colleges is infringing on student’s academic freedom, a student representative said.
Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) president Pride Mukono told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Tertiary Education that security agents who have flooded universities and colleges should be flushed out, saying they have now compromised the quality of education.
“Lack of academic freedom is a demon that has paralysed the educational system in the country. Security agents have infested universities and colleges and they limit our academic freedoms.
“Even lecturers have been threatened with death if they talked a position believed to be anti-government,” said Mukono.
He said because of heavy police presence at tertiary institutions, scores of students have been arrested, detained and tortured without justifiable causes, in crackdowns reminiscent of the colonial era.
“Universities should be a centre to transforming radical ideas in society, not to eliminate them.
“The police have violated student rights either because of zeal or intelligence or lack of both by clamping down on demonstrations,” said Mukono.
According to the Kampala Declaration which Zimbabwe is party to, security operatives should only be found at a public learning institution if there is political or social unrest, unless they were students.
Mukono further lambasted government for not reintroducing student funding saying it was the cause of prostitution by female students in universities.
He said through the Presidential Scholarship, President Robert Mugabe spends $58 million per year to send some 5 000 students to South African universities yet Zimbabwe allocates only $52 million per year for infrastructural development for all local universities and colleges.
Mugabe is the Chancellor of all State universities in Zimbabwe.