By Farai Matiashe
The Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) has called for the immediate release of six student leaders, who were arrested and detained in Bulawayo and Masvingo on Tuesday.
Zinasu Masvingo provincial chairperson Simon Gatawa and other members were arrested at the Great Zimbabwe University (GZU), while at Lupane State University (LSU), student representative council (SRC) president Silas Makumbe and colleagues were arrested for demonstrating against the deteriorating educational system.
Gatawa and other students from LSU appeared in court yesterday.
Zinasu secretary-general Ashely Pfunye accused government of violating the rights of the students.
“The government is harassing students. We have information that about five of our students were detained yesterday (Tuesday) without being charged. We are calling for the immediate release of these young leaders. They were exercising their constitutionally given right and they were non-violent,” he said.
Pfunye said government should address the problems bedevilling the nation rather than suppress the voices of the people.
“We do not want a government that does not listen to the people. We want a government that addresses the problems and not to arrest those who try to speak,” he said. Pfunye called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa to relinquish chancellorship of State universities.
“We are calling for the autonomy of institutions. We want GZU and LSU to have their own chancellors. Let the academic arena be purely academic. The academic arena must be depoliticised so that students can get education freely,” he said.
Meanwhile, Morgan Zintec Teachers’ College students yesterday staged a peaceful demonstration at their institution over deterioration of standards and poor diet.
They demanded the immediate dissolution of the current SRC, diet improvement and called for the principal to remove the directive that the main gate be closed at 8:20am.
“We haven’t eaten since morning. We last ate yesterday at 6pm and the meal was just sadza served with cabbage cooked without cooking oil,” a student who refused to be named, said. Another student accused the SRC of corruption and called for fresh elections.
Morgan Zintec principal Tendai James Zenda told students that his administration would look into the grievances.
“With meals, we are going to ensure that you get your proper meals,” he said.
Zenda, who was in November last year transferred from Nyadire Teachers’ College, however, warned that coming late to college was not tolerated.