Category Archives: ESSENTIALS

After Mugabe – ‘Not much has changed in HE’

Kudzai Mashininga
4 minute read

A year after the departure of Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe after 37 years in power, opinion is divided on how much progress the new government under Emmerson Mnangagwa has made in reforming the country’s struggling higher education sector.

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher Education Daniel Molokele said there had been no significant changes in the sector as political interference in the running of higher education, corruption and chronic underfunding has continued under the country’s new leader.

“I would say there haven’t been any significant changes to differentiate between the previous and the present era. So we still need more time to see those promised changes, but one thing that I can clearly see is that in terms of budgeting, in terms of prioritising the higher education ministry, there is still a challenge. The ministry asked for a budget of US$900 million something in the national budget; it got a budget of US$380 million. So we are still underfunding higher education.”

Reforms

After coming to power, Mnangagwa introduced the Transitional Stabilisation Programme aimed at reinvigorating higher education and ensuring the system is relevant to the labour market. In March the government held a Higher and Tertiary Education Infrastructure Investment conference at which investors committed US$1.5 billion. The government is also working on establishing university towns and has pledged to set aside 1% of the country’s gross domestic product for research.

However, Molokele, who is a former student leader at the University of Zimbabwe, argues that institutional governance systems are still a problem, with university councils filled with political appointees who do not have real influence.

Furthermore, the current situation, where the state president is also the chancellor of every state-run institution of higher learning, has been a recipe for disaster.

“Universities need less political influence and more emphasis on academic freedom,” he said.

“There is corruption in the administration of most institutions of higher learning. The vice-chancellors have a lot of power and they need to be more accountable,” he said.

Earlier this year, the vice-chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), Professor Levi Nyagura, was suspended over the awarding of a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 2014 to the former first lady Grace Mugabe under controversial circumstances, and after lecturers from the department of sociology submitted a petition to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission calling for the PhD to be revoked and nullified.

“We need to see more autonomy and independence in institutions of higher learning. We know that the University of Zimbabwe Amendment Act of 1990 changed the vice-chancellor from the chief academic to a chief disciplinarian and that trend then affected all the other universities run by the state. We need to see more academic freedom in Zimbabwe,” said Molekele.

Students ‘learn in fear’

Concerns have also been raised by students. In a position paperreleased in November, the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) said under Mnangagwa students’ rights continue to be trampled upon and universities continue to arbitrarily suspend students.

The union said students learn in fear as their freedoms of association, and right to information and assembly, are not respected due to draconian colonial legislation which has been redefined by the current regime as institutional ordinances that seek to give unprecedented power to university authorities to expel and suspend students.

“Many UZ students are still serving their suspensions after the college executed the ordinance 31 to suspend them,” the statement said.

The statement said that after the Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University demonstration in Bindura, 50 students were suspended without a disciplinary hearing, which the union successfully challenged. There was also the National University of Science and Technology demonstration, where seven students were detained only for questioning the administration.

Soaring cost of living

ZINASU said Mnangagwa has failed to make higher education accessible as pledged by his administration as the cost of living soars.

In recent months, there has been a jump in prices of goods and services with some service providers demanding payment in foreign currency even though the majority of citizens are paid in local Zimbabwe bond notes.

The jump in prices resulted in year-on-year inflation rising to 20.85% for the month of October from 5.39% in September.

ZINASU said the current fee structure is unmanageable for many students who come from struggling backgrounds.

“These challenges have a strong bearing on the education of our students. If the economic situation continues to deteriorate, students will be forced to discontinue their studies,” it said.

President of the College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe David Dzatsunga confirmed that the economic situation is becoming dire, resulting in a lack of resources and equipment for use by students and lecturers.

“The economic situation is dire and generally students are struggling to purchase the required materials. Student welfare is not at its best and that creates downstream problems,” he said.

Austerity measures

Dzatsunga said the new administration announced austerity measures in the national budget in November that are being implemented without consultation, worsening the situation for lecturers.

For example, the government has said that duty on imported cars must now be paid in United States dollars even though workers are being paid in Zimbabwe bond notes.

“The austerity measures have the effect of eroding our salaries and we may end up earning the equivalent of US$110 … The conditions of service are deteriorating,” he said.

Dzatsunga said while government had introduced a new curriculum in schools, teacher training colleges had not reviewed their own curriculum.

“This means that teachers are being taught the old curriculum to go and teach the new curriculum,” he said.

‘More needs to be done’

Zimbabwean academic Dr Admire Mare, a senior lecturer at Namibia University of Science and Technology, said the new minister in the post-Mugabe era – Professor Amon Murwira – has tried his best to improve the situation. However, he said, more needs to be done.

“I think the current minister of higher and tertiary education, science and technology development is trying his best to put our universities back on the global map after years of infrastructural decay and lowering of academic standards.

“The replacement of Levi Nyagura [as University of Zimbabwe vice-chancellor] is also a step in the right direction because academics were being denied the opportunity to attend conferences and engage in forward thinking conversations with their peers,” said Mare.

He said while these are important steps, there is still a need to ensure academic standards in teaching, research and community development are strengthened.

“Academics ought to be incentivised to publish in authentic peer-reviewed journals and this can be done through a Zimbabwe national research fund or foundation which helps the ministry with disbursing research funds to active researchers. There is also a need to ensure that technological hubs become part of the academic ecosystem so that research and development are connected,” said Mare.

Originally published at http://www.universityworldnews.com
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Student jailed 4 years for hit and run killing

Curator | Nust-ZW
2 minute read.

A 25-year-old Zimbabwean student at a South African university has been jailed for four years after he was convicted for killing Harare businessman and socialite Shingi Mukandi in a hit and run road accident last year.

Alfred Machipisa, a third-year student, was convicted of culpable homicide.

He was accused of failing to stop after a fatal road accident to both render assistance and report the accident to the police within the mandatory 24 hours.

Machipisa will however serve 3 years effective after Harare magistrate Edwin Marecha set aside a year of his sentence conditionally.

“The accused deserves punishment for his gross negligence.

“A fine will trivialise the offences and worsening his case is that he did not stop after the accident.

“He only pitched up at the police after three days of manhunt. Maybe if he had stopped to check on the victim, if he was still alive or needed help, it would have been different,” said the magistrate.

Court ruled Machipisa was negligent by travelling at an excessive speed while failing to keep a proper look out.

The magistrate said he also acted negligently by failing to render assistance or guarding Mukandi’s lifeless body.

Prosecuting, Isheunesu Mhiti said on July 22 last year, around 9pm, Machipisa drove a white Isuzu KB300 due west along Harare Drive while trailing Mukandi’s green Kawasaki motor cycle.

Mhiti said as Machipisa passed number 201 Mt Pleasant, he negligently drove his Isuzu at an excessive speed in the circumstances and failed to keep a proper lookout for the road user ahead.

The vehicle that was involved in the accident

“Machipisa failed to keep a safe distance between his car and Mukandi’s motorcycle that was ahead of him and as a result, hit him from behind,” Mhiti said.

Due to the impact, Mhiti said Mukandi flew off the motorcycle and landed approximately 70 meters away from the left side of the tarmac.

His bike was picked some 100 meters away from the point of impact.

Court heard that Mukandi’s body and the damaged motorcycle were discovered by a passer-by who called for an ambulance.

The ambulance crew declared Mukandi dead at the scene. An autopsy was carried out on Mukandi’s body at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and concluded that he died due to injuries sustained in the accident.

At that time, Machipisa had hidden his car at his father’s place in Harare’s Mabelreign and handed himself to the police three days later saying he was still in shock.

Born in 1984, Shingi was the Executive Director and Head of Operations for Freight World which is one of the leading shipping, forwarding and customs clearing organisations which was established in 1991.

The businessman and socialite was known for his partying ways and was a biker.

Original Article: https://www.newzimbabwe.com/shingi-mukandis-killer-driver-jailed-4-years/

Zimbabwe Announces Suspension Of Customs Duty & Value Added Tax on Sanitary Wear

Curator | Nust-ZW
One minute read

Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube yesterday suspended customs duty on sanitary wear for the next one year.

Presenting the 2019 National Budget in Parliament, Prof Ncube said this was meant to cushion underprivileged women and girls in the interim, while the local supply of sanitary wear improves

I propose to suspend customs duty for sanitary wear for a period of 12 months beginning December 1, 2018. I also propose to exempt imports of sanitary wear from Value Added Tax,’ said Prof Ncube.

POLITICS OF PERIODS

Parliamentarians and various organisations have been running campaigns aimed at advocating for health and wellness particularly access to sanitary wear.

The campaigns call for standardised, affordable prices for sanitary wear, pushing for a mandatory sustainable sanitary wear budget in every Government institution and public spaces, free sanitary wear in schools and also pushing organisations like the United Nations to prioritise girls and young women’s health and wellness.

These campaigns have revealed that:

…many young girls miss school during their menstrual periods, while others are subjected to sexual harassment and abuse as a result of lack of access to sanitary wear, which makes them eventually drop out of school.

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs and Youth, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga is on record as saying the health needs of girls should be prioritised by Government.

Parliamentarians from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party have urged the government to invest in the industry and provide free period products as a show of respect.

“Sanitary wear should be made readily available free of charge just like condoms; government should pay for sanitary wear. Government should take the dignity of women and girls seriously,” Jessie Majome, a Zimbabwean legislator from the opposition MDC party, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation

Sources: Chronicle + Reuters

Binga-born student makes shortlist for prestigious 2019 Rhodes Scholarship programme

St Kate News
2 minute read

THE Selection Committee for the Zimbabwe Rhodes Scholarship programme has announced that a St. Catherine University student is a finalist for the 2019 programme.

Maakwe Cumanzala is an international student at the Minnesota Catholic liberal arts university in with a double major in economics and mathematics.

“This is an extremely competitive award, so being named a finalist is a remarkable achievement” said Lynda Szymanski, Interim Provost and Professor of Psychology at St. Catherine University.

“Maakwe is an extraordinary student and campus leader. Faculty, staff, and alumnae recognized her potential and encouraged her to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship; it is a fabulous example of how we live our mission to educate women to lead and influence.

“Maakwe is an extraordinary student and campus leader. Faculty, staff, and alumnae recognized her potential and encouraged her to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship

“We are proud of Maakwe, and we are thankful for all members of our community who have helped prepare her to be a competitive applicant.”

The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world.

Administered by the Rhodes Trust in Oxford, the programme offers fully-funded Scholarships each year for post-graduate study at the University of Oxford – one of the world’s leading universities.

Selection Committees for the Scholarships look for young leaders of outstanding intellect and character who are motivated to engage with global challenges, committed to the service of others and show promise of becoming value-driven, principled leaders for the world’s future.

Cumanzala has embraced several leadership opportunities while a student at St. Catherine University, including President of the International Students Organization, Peer Mentor with the Multicultural and International Programs and Services, co-President of the Economics Club, and a Transfer Orientation Coordinator.

In her current role as the Student Senate President at St. Kate’s, Cumanzala is working with other student leaders to effectively advocate for inclusive change and empowerment of students on campus through student initiatives.

Cumanzala’s college career reflects her greater life goals.

“I come from a small town – Binga, Zimbabwe,” she explained.

“Growing up, I was exposed to the disparities that the Tonga people face – especially the women and young girls so I decided at a very young age that I wanted to bring about the economic empowerment of my tribe and all other minority people in the world.

“The first step is for me to receive a sound education.”

Each finalist participates in an interview, to be held in Harare, Zimbabwe. If she is chosen to move forward as a Rhodes Scholar, Cumanzala intends to pursue an MPhil in Economics at the University of Oxford.

She also hopes to collaborate and receive mentorship from the renowned professors in the Centre for the Study of African Economies

Following her Oxford studies, Cumanzala plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Development Economics, and establish an independent economics research lab in Zimbabwe to use data-driven evidence to inform policy.

“The Rhodes scholarship would offer me a unique opportunity to gain knowledge and skills to create theories that will be influential in setting domestic and international policies that bring about equality in the world,” said Cumanzala.

“As a Rhodes Scholar, I would continue being an exemplary academic and leader to inspire minority girls to engage in higher education and claim their seat at the table.”

NUST Young Inventors Club wins 2nd place at #SANBioLabHack2018

The #SANBioLabHack2018 took place in Pretoria, South Africa, this week with 17 undergraduate students coming together to turn their passion for innovation by addressing afro-centric solutions to common lab issues.

Staff Writer | Nust ZW

2 minute read

The 2nd place winning team from the Zimbabwe National University of Science and Technology’s (NUST) Young Inventors Club impressed the judges with their low-cost PCR machine, which is also known as a Thermocycler that is commonly used to amplify segments of DNA.

Aimed to bring the ideas and ideology of the open hardware movement to the African education community, LabHack opens up opportunities for equipping labs in novel and sustainable fashions by facilitating the open design of key laboratory equipment.

When asked what inspired their prototype, Team Zimbabwe captain and NUST Electronics Engineering student Clifford Mutsave said the team wanted to live up to their name, Young Inventors.

According to the team, the best centre in Zimbabwe only has two PCR machines mainly because they are very expensive.

The cheapest PCR machines on the market cost in the range of forty thousand US dollars and are thus often unaffordable by the institutions offering science and technology education, resulting in students lacking a practical exposure to how these kinds of equipment are operated.

In high school we were also victims of theoretical lessons on how to operate the lab equipment, resulting in a lack of overall appreciation on how to use these pieces of equipment. As NUST students who have their country at heart – especially young scientists in the high schools – we have come with a design of a low cost and economic yet effective PCR machine,” Mutsave states.

Mutsave’s team also included Applied Chemistry student, Miriam Guni – the only female participant in the group – and Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering students Ropafadzo Manyuchi and Nakai Mashamba.

The team were also accompanied by their mentors, Nigel Nyathi, Givemore Kanyemba along with Tafadzwa Banga who is the founder and president of a non-profit organisation Young Inventors from NUST.
Young Inventors was established in 2017 after getting support from the Yali organisation with the idea to give innovative African youths the platform to engage in shaping their communities.
As an organisation, we want to ensure that youths who are innovative get recognition as much as those in the academic sector do. It has been a trend for the past in Africa, Zimbabwe specifically, that a child who excels in academics is considered to be more important than others whilst those who are innovative are not so much appreciated. As of now we have managed to establish a club at NUST and what we seek is to break departmental barriers by allowing students from different departments to work together. Winning this award is just the beginning of more great things to come,” Banga said.

The LabHack model was first piloted in Zimbabwe and conceived by University of Oxford researchers, Dr Louise Bezuidenhout and Helena Webb with the intention to be a competitive and educational event where multidisciplinary teams of students compete around three challenges to build low-cost laboratory equipment.

The South African edition of LabHack was supported and hosted by SANBio / BioFISA II Programme which is a shared biosciences research development and innovation platform for working collaboratively to address some of Southern Africa’s key biosciences issues in health, nutrition and health-related intervention areas.

Members of the Young Inventors

BREAKING: 30 die as SA bound bus catches fire

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Gwanda Correspondent

30 PEOPLE have died after a Brooklyn Express bus was reduced to ashes near West Nicholson area in Gwanda on Thursday night.

Civil Protection Unit director Mr Nathan Nkomo confirmed the number of the deceased with the government releasing $15 000 to their families for funeral expenses.

Speaking at the scene of the accident, Matabeleland South police spokesperson, Chief Inspector Philisani Ndebele said several bodies had been reduced to ashes.

Gwanda Provincial Hospital acting medical superintendent, Dr Rutendo Manyathi said 27 people sustained injuries- with five being referred to Bulawayo after sustaining severe burns.

Dr Manyati said they are working with various stakeholders to collect the bodies.

The driver of the bus who escaped with minor burns, Mr Ndabazinhle Sikhosana said the fire started after a suspected gas tank explosion.

He said some passengers escaped through the door and windows.

Developing story

Hacking forces MSU to stop SRC polls

BY BRENNA MATENDERE | Newsday 
One minute read

MIDLANDS State University (MSU) students have raised concern after the institution’s administration halted the Students Representative Council (SRC) elections and postponed them indefinitely.

The university claimed its server had been hacked to interfere with the elections that were being carried out electronically.

The elections were scheduled to be held from November 9-15 but on the first day of voting, MSU registrar Erasmus Mupfiga posted an announcement on the institution’s website that the elections had been postponed indefinitely.

“This communication serves to inform you that the SRC elections that had been scheduled for Thursday 9 November and Thursday 15 November have been postponed until further notice. The postponement has been as a result of a serious and massive security breach that has been detected by our information and technology department,” read part of the notice.

MSU spokesperson, Mirirai Mawere, confirmed the developments.

“Yes I can confirm that they have been postponed until further notice. The postponement is as a result of a serious and massive security breach which has been detected by our information and technology experts. The university has a duty to ensure that the SRC elections are conducted in a credible, professional and transparent manner so that the results thereof truly reflect the will of all the students,” she told Southern Eye.

Zimbabwe National Students Union Midlands chairman Tinashe Chiriga, however, slammed the university’s decision and accused the administration of seeking to protect a candidate from the Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union (Zicosu), which he said was headed for defeat.

When the polls were halted, Jacob Lawrence Sedze (Zinasu) was leading the race for the SRC presidency with 248 votes ahead of Elsie Moyo (Zicosu) at 102 and Richard Sweto (Independent) who had polled 71.

“The biggest challenge we have is that no official communication was made to the candidates. Just a message to the students on the public e-voting platform was circulated by the registrar,” Chiriga said, adding that the development had raised anxiety among students.

Pregnant NUST Student in Train Suicide

Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Reporter

A 19-YEAR-OLD student from the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) in Bulawayo was crushed by a train in an alleged suicide with family members managing to identify her by part of her leg and jacket she was wearing.

Blessing Mangena of Cowdray Park suburb who was a first year Statistics student lay on a railway track near her home on Monday night after her boyfriend allegedly disowned her pregnancy and told her he was married.

The student, who was said to be brilliant in her studies, lived with her uncle as her parents work in South Africa.

Blessing’s parents, Mr and Mrs Mangena, arrived from their South African base yesterday evening and could not contain their grief at the death of their daughter.

Police from Luveve Police station attended the scene.

Acting Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube confirmed the incident yesterday afternoon.

“I can confirm that we attended the scene of a case of sudden death where a 19-year-old woman was found lying dead on a railway line. Investigations are underway and at this time we cannot disclose the cause of death,” said Insp Ncube.

The Chronicle visited the family and spoke to Blessing’s uncle, Mr Trust Munkombwe, who lived with her as her parents reside in South Africa.

Mr Munkombwe said he works in Binga but at the time of the death of his niece, he had come home for examinations at Lupane State University.

He said his niece left a suicide note, revealing the reason why she decided to end her life. “She said she was sorry for disappointing the family. She did not know how to break the news to us but she was four and a half months pregnant and had discovered that her boyfriend was married after pretending to be a bachelor during their relationship. She asked us to be strong for her mother,” said Mr Munkombwe.

The suicide note read: “Mum is the best, please comfort her for me. I love her”.

Mr Munkombwe said they started looking for her at around 8PM on Monday to no avail, before they learnt of her death from social media messages, hours later.

“After we had given up looking for her, we saw some viral messages on WhatsApp which were alerting people of a young woman who had been crushed to death by a train at Cowdray Park near the Water Works. I rushed there with my neighbour and to my shock, we discovered that it was my niece. I could only identify her by my jacket that she had borrowed in the morning when she left for school,” he said.

Mr Munkombwe described his niece as a hard working and brilliant student who never had any disciplinary problems at home.

He said she was also an active member of the Apostolic Faith Mission Church in Cowdray Park suburb.

“It was so painful I could not even look at her. All I could identify her with was my jacket and a piece of her leg and shoes she was wearing. That was all.

If only she had told me, I would not have allowed her to do this. These are the problems of child headed families. I am away at work most of the times so children lack counselling and guidance and neighbours also fail to act in loco parentis as our communities have changed,” said Mr Munkombwe.

“Her parents invested so much in her education. She passed very well at Mtshabezi High School in her O-levels before attaining 13 points in Maths, Biology and Chemistry at Sizane High School for her A-Levels. Her dream was to study Pharmacy, although she was enrolled for Statistics at Nust.”

Blessing is survived by her parents and young brother.

Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course. — @andile_tshuma. Pictures: Zimlive.com

Great Zimbabwe University to launch Community Radio Station in Masvingo

One minute read

Great Zimbabwe University will soon launch its Campus Radio Station following the recent successful installation of the digital equipment imported from abroad.

The campus radio station, the first to be owned by a university in Zimbabwe, is now awaiting licensing from responsible authorities before it can start broadcasting.

Vice Chancellor Professor Rungano Zvobgo said the radio station will reach out to people living in Masvingo and its surroundings, adding that this non-commercial radio station will broadcast a variety of educational programmes and programmes to enhance social awareness and educate the audience about their social responsibilities.

“We are going to establish a radio station as a university, the first of its kind in Zimbabwe. The radio station will usher in a new era in the history of GZU. We hope to train the best broadcast journalists in Zimbabwe.

Radio plays an important role in our lives and quality journalism is essential in educating, informing and entertaining,” said Prof Zvobgo. The campus radio station will serve as an incubator of the broadcasting talent available at the University.

GZU RADIO

As the government moves to licence more radio stations, graduates from GZU are expected to be well primed for absorption into these new radio stations due to the practical experience they would have acquired from the Campus Radio Station.

Besides terrestrial broadcasting, a website for the station from which the station will stream live, is currently being developed. With livestreaming, the GZU Campus Radio will be accessible to people outside its broadcast radius through the internet. – GZU Facebook

Suicide after lecturer ‘beds student’s girlfriend’

Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
One minute read

A FINAL year Local Government student at Midlands State University allegedly hanged himself from the roof truss at his lodgings in Nehosho area in Senga early yesterday morning for unknown reasons.

Walter Temera

Speculation is, however, rife that Walter Temera killed himself in anger after allegedly finding one of his lecturers bedding his girlfriend. It is also said that he was in debt and possibly saw suicide as the only way out.

Midlands Provincial police spokesperson Inspector Joel Goko said reasons why he allegedly took his life were unknown adding that police investigations were underway.

“Yes I can confirm that an MSU student was allegedly found hanging from the roof truss of the toilet at a house where he was staying with other school mates. There are a lot of theories being thrown around but police investigations are underway,” he said.

MSU director of information Mrs Mirirai Mawere also confirmed the sudden death.

“Yes I can confirm the death of one of our students. It’s now a police case and under investigation, “she said.

Students close to the matter said that Temera had travelled to Victoria Falls with other students on an educational tour arriving back in Gweru around 2AM.

“Word is that he tried to jump off a moving bus when they were returning from Victoria Falls but was restrained by other students. The reasons for wanting to commit suicide by jumping off a moving bus are unknown,” said a student on condition of anonymity.

He said when the bus arrived at the Gweru Main Campus – it was suggested that Temera should spend the rest of the night under the watch of his best friend at the Main Campus.

“He allegedly sneaked out of his best friend’s room and went to his lodgings in Nehosho. This morning, he started apologising to his friends for all the wrongs he had done to them telling them that he lived a ‘fake’ life. Then around 7:30AM he was found hanging from a truss in a toilet,” said the student.

However, the student said his neighbour told the police that Temera owed some students money which he was failing to pay back.

Insp Goko appealed to members of the public especially students to consult elders or their lecturers when they face problems.

“It is unfortunate that members of the society resort to such extreme measures in the face of challenges. As police we urge members of the public especially these students to value the sanctity of live. In the face of problems they must consult school authorities, elders in the community, their guardians or the police,” he said.