A Parliament report tabled in the House of Assembly last week showed that the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education owed the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) $7 202 455 in fees arrears for students under the Cadetship Support Scheme (CSS).
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher Education Siyabonga Ncube, who presented the report, said there was also lack of academic freedom disclosing that State security agents roaming the institution intimidated students, while draconian pieces of legislation like the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) were giving departmental heads excessive powers over students.
“The ministry owes the UZ $7 202 455 in fees arrears for students catered for under the CSS and there are slightly over 5 500 students under the CSS,” read the report.
“Draconian pieces of legislation currently operating in this country, which include Posa and various tertiary institution Acts, which afford heads of those institutions excessive powers and ordinances, have been used and continue to be used to stifle the students’ voice through arrests and detentions and politically motivated suspensions and expulsions.”
The report added: “The police have effected countless arrests on student leaders without justifiable cause and a case in point is the arrest of seven student leaders who were apprehended in Masvingo in October 2010 and the recent arrest of the current president of the Zimbabwe National Students’ Union who suffered torture from the security personnel of the UZ.
It is alleged that State security agents roam in tertiary institutions day and night whether or not there is any imminent danger to life and property.
“Tuition fees range from $350 to $700 or even more and are beyond the reach of many, considering the current economic challenges most parents and guardians are facing. The halls of residence fees at many tertiary institutions are too high and unaffordable.
For example, UZ charges $400 per semester. This has forced many students to seek alternative accommodation in environments that are not very conducive for studying.”