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Outcry over punitive legal education arrangement

Local News
The lawyers argue that the examination dates were issued without consultation.

Lawyers who studied at foreign universities have raised concern over the punitive arrangement put by the Council for Legal Education (CLE) for them to write cancelled July conversion examinations in December this year.

The lawyers argue that the examination dates were issued without consultation.

They also complained that registration fees, pegged at US$20 to get an identification document, are above the US$2 charged a University of Zimbabwe student.

A student who refused to be named for fear of victimisation said many students flew to Zimbabwe while some would be driving to the testing centres for the examinations.

Last Friday, the CLE sent letters to students indicating that the examinations had been shifted to December 11 to 15.

The council did not state the reason for the sudden change of dates and time.

“The department of ICTs at the University of Zimbabwe will open the admission link for all CLE students to enter their profile into E-mhare system.

“CLE will advise you of the dates to enter your profiles on the E-mhare system. The new dates of examinations are now from December 11 to 15, 2023. Once students complete all registration formalities, they will get their IDs upon payment of a fee of US$20. CLE will advise students when to collect their IDs before the examinations,” CLE chairperson Justice Silvia Chirawu-Mugomba wrote last week.

However, the students argued that CLE did not advise them when the examinations would resume before communicating three months later.

The examinations were initially scheduled for December 4 to 8.

“Despite numerous requests for more information regarding venue and issuing of student exam numbers, CLE officials in their social media groups assured us that examinations were still proceeding and that communication was incoming,” one of the students fumed.

“This, however, was not the case as no information was forthcoming in sufficient time to ensure people did not once again lose money in trying to plan to come to Harare to write examinations.

“Despite the CLE having caused the problems that made it postpone the first time, it stated in October that those seeking to write examinations would not be allowed to defer despite having given people dates they had not planned for.”

The council is also accused of threatening to withhold the US$70 per subject paid by the students.

This is the second time, according to the students, that they have been forced to change travel arrangements for the examinations.

CLE was recently caught in a scam involving fake certificates where several foreign law students were getting practising certificates for a fee.

Several lawyers and officials from CLE were arrested leaving the council paralysed.

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