Parly turns heat on minister over varsity fees hike

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Settlement Chikwinya

BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA/CATHERINE MUCHIRI
MEMBERS of National Assembly have requested Higher and Tertiary Education minister Amon Murwira to issue a ministerial statement in the House on the escalating fees charged to tertiary students.

On Monday night, University of Zimbabwe students protested, saying the fees were too high after they were raised from $19 000 to $51 088 per semester.

Newly sworn-in Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya (Citizens Coalition for Change) on Tuesday raised a point of interest in the National Assembly and called on Murwira to issue a statement on the university fees hike.

“My matter of national importance emanates from that various university students have been given notice to register for their examinations, but the notice is short and the fees are exorbitant for them to be able to raise the required amounts of registration fees in the given time,” Chikwinya said.

“My concern is borne out of consultation, being that if one fails to register, they defer examinations which are a departure from the norm where previously students were allowed to make a payment plan or at least sit for examinations and then fail to obtain results until they have paid for those examinations.

“So I move that if the Higher and Tertiary Education minister can come to Parliament at least with a ministerial statement as to why the rules have changed, and as Parliament, we can have a national discourse around finding a solution which allows the students to pursue their educational careers without disturbance.”

Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda responded: “We will try to inform the honourable minister as the matter is hot and we hope that the minister will be able to explain.”

University of Zimbabwe student representative council president Lennox Machoko said: “Students are demonstrating against these fees increases as the majority have parents who are civil servants. The fees are unaffordable.  The ministry delayed to gazette the proposed fees that the university had submitted earlier in the year. Hence students were asked to pay at least 80%, pending the final figure so that the university can open as it was already behind time.”

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said some students were arrested after the protests on Monday.

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