The news that the government is planning to spend $1 billion on a Robert Gabriel Mugabe University feels like a heavy blow, as it again shows that the authorities just have no appetite to solve Zimbabwe’s problems and are more captivated by vanity projects and ego boosters.
Maybe we still have a hangover of the Zimbabwe dollar era and do not quite understand how much $1 billion is and if it would be well-spent were it to be invested in a university, never mind a Robert Gabriel Mugabe institution.
The country’s National Budget is just above $4 billion, meaning the money approved for the university is a quarter of the budget, which really does not make sense, as Zimbabwe clearly cannot afford such profligacy.
Still connected to that, it is believed that $1 billion is the total amount of money circulating in the country at the moment and can you imagine all the currency in the country being taken to fund one university.
This is before we even start discussing the existing universities, which are being bogged down by lack of funding and government’s indifference to their state.
The National University of Science and Technology now resembles ruins rather than an institution of higher learning because of the government’s failure to complete its construction.
The University of Zimbabwe has been forced to resort to having two intakes a year, compromising the quality of education in the process, in a clear move to raise money for its operations, which is symptomatic of the government’s failure to cater for the varsity.
Examples abound of universities literally groaning under the yoke of financial troubles and yet the government is barely lifting a finger to intervene.
If the government is desperate for a Robert Gabriel Mugabe University, then there is no harm in starting small, with a department or a foundation within an established university.
Then, as time goes on, the department will grow until it becomes either a college or a fully-fledged university, an evolutionary process rather than this one that they are embarking on.
Instead of putting $1 billion into one institution, it would have been better to give the money to the already established universities and try to grow their capacity, instead of throwing it all into the Robert Gabriel Mugabe University.
What may happen is that the government may watch, while all State universities are collapsing and yet it will only channelling funding to one varsity, which would in the end be detrimental to the country.
There are better ways to allocate money to universities and colleges rather than throwing it into one basket.