Category Archives: Politics

HIGH COURT BLOCKS STUDENT LEADER SUSPENSION

A High Court judge has ordered the reinstatement of a Midlands State University (MSU) student who had been suspended by the tertiary institution for allegedly branding an MDC-T placard on campus.
MSU authorities recently suspended Archbold Elias Madida for allegedly holding a placard inscribed “MSU Students support MDC-T” on campus.
This followed an anti-government protest staged recently in Gweru by Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party.
The MSU authorities had claimed that Madida’s conduct was “harmful to the interests of the university”.
However, Madida, with assistance from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) member Takashinga Pamacheche of Gundu and Dube Legal Practitioners filed an urgent chamber application in the Bulawayo High Court.
He was challenging his suspension which he argued amounted to victimisation and sought an order to have it set aside.
On Tuesday, High Court Judge Francis Bere ordered MSU and Professor Ngwabi Bhebhe, who were cited as respondents respectively, to allow Madida to pursue his studies at the university.
“The applicant (Madida) be and is hereby allowed to be on the university’s premises, attend lectures, participate in university programmes and have access to all university facilities,” reads part of the order granted Tuesday by Bere.
Bere also ordered that Madida’s suspension pending a disciplinary hearing against him be permanently lifted.
Prior to being suspended, MSU security personnel had on Tuesday 16 August 2016 escorted Madida from MSU’s Zvishavane campus to the university’s Gweru main campus, where the authorities had scheduled to convene a disciplinary hearing for him.
However, Madida’s lawyer was later advised that no hearing was to take place but that just an enquiry was to be held which was conducted in the office of the Chief Security Officer only identified as Chademana.
Madida denied all the allegations leveled against him and insisted that the authorities proceed in whatever manner they deemed fit.
Madida’s lawyer also resisted attempts by Chademana to have the legal practitioner leave the university premises without her client which Pamacheche refused to do and insisted that the security personnel ensures that the MSU student travels back to Zvishavane campus as they were the ones who had escorted him to Gweru.
In the end, the MSU security personnel capitulated and made some arrangements to facilitate Madida’s return to Zvishavane campus.
Students at state-run universities and other tertiary institutions, most of them derelict after years of under-funding and mismanagement by President Robert Mugabe’s administration, have been participating in countrywide anti-government protests organised by pro-democracy activists, which are becoming routine as the country’s political and economic crisis worsens.-channelzim

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RSA IS NOT BURNING: IN DEFENSE OF THE COUNTRY’S NATIONAL AGENDA

by Buyile Sangolekhaya Matiwane | Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT)

Observers of the current affairs discourse in this country could be forgiven for thinking that South Africa is totally bereft of hope and that the state is on the brink of collapse.
The dominant views emerging out of this one sided discourse are those of doomsayers who use the country’s genuine growth and development challenges as a tool to support their imaginary theories of a failing state, led by a government that is incapable of addressing the needs of ordinary citizens. To this end, unemployment, crime, service delivery protests, government’s response to the drought, the performance of the Rand and slowing economic growth rate are paraded as examples of how the ANC led government is, in the words of one commentator, “fiddling while Rome burns.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. In a forthright and frank assessment of our economic challenges during a period of slowing global volatility, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan noted that a decline in demand for our commodities and their prices has created a toxic mix of reduced export earnings, declining investment, job losses and in some cases business failures.
It is for these and other reasons that Minister Gordhan delivered one of the most balanced budgets that advocates for a period of fiscal consolidation marked by a reduction in the budget deficit, freezing non-essential managerial and administrative posts and introducing specific new taxes to augment national revenue.
To respond to slowing global demand for commodities, which is leading to job cuts, especially in the mining and associated industries, government has identified and is investing in key sectors of the economy that have the potential to create thousands of new, sustainable jobs. The National Growth Path (NGP) calls for targeted investment in infrastructure development, the agricultural value chain, the mining value chain, the green economy, the manufacturing sector and tourism.
To respond to the challenge posed by the NGP, government has kick-started a comprehensive infrastructure development programme that is turning South Africa into a massive construction site. New roads, railway lines, power stations, dams, bridges, pipelines, schools, hospitals and clinics are either in the planning stages, construction phase or have just been completed. The country is spending R1 billion a day on a massive infrastructure development programme that has so far created over 200 000 jobs.
On a daily basis, the socio economic conditions of our people are improving for the better. When completed; Medupi, Ingula and Kusile power stations will add over 1600 Megawatts onto the national grid. Six months ago President Jacob Zuma opened Medupi Unit 6 which has added 800 Megawatts onto the grid. The results are there for all to see. When was the last time South Africa experienced large scale load shedding?
South Africa is investing in its people and putting them to work. In terms of government’s commitment to industrialisation; buses, trucks and rail locomotives are being manufactured and refurbished here at home, in targeted economic zones such as Rosslyn in Tshwane and factories in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The Industrial Development Corporation has set aside billions of Rands to invest in new manufacturing ventures, the green economy, grow the pool of entrepreneurs and to create new black industrialists.
Other large scale infrastructure initiatives include widening the Durban Harbour and increasing its container terminal capacity, expanding capacity at the Port of Ngqura, completing the De Hoop and Clanwilliam dams and extending the Bus Rapid Transit system that has proved successful in Tshwane, Joburg and Cape Town to other metros such Ekurhuleni which is about to pilot the first phase of its BRT system.
Our State Owned Companies (SOCs) are crucial in driving this infrastructure development through targeted spending on developmental projects with the propensity to create thousands of jobs and ensure that infrastructure can meet demand once the global economic outlook improves. This is the mark of a government that works, that is creating new industries and maximising opportunities for investment, employment and growth.
But boasting about investing in infrastructure is futile if this investment does not result in visible improvements in the lives of ordinary South Africans. When a municipality, working closely with Eskom, extends transmission to an area that had no electricity and Gogo Dube switches on the lights in her home for the first time in her life that is when we are working. When a single mother of four receives the keys to her brand new home after years on the waiting list and smiles because she has always dreamt of cooking in her own kitchen that is when we are making a difference.
When a young entrepreneur receives funding for an idea that could change the world for the better and create jobs for locals, we know that our efforts at improving the lives of our people are bearing fruit.
President Jacob Zuma has put infrastructure development at the top of his agenda and is personally overseeing coordination of all the major infrastructure development programmes along with members of his executive. As the President has aptly put it: “Infrastructure development is critical for both industrialisation and to boost employment in construction and other sectors, especially during such a difficult time.”
The doomsayers are wrong. Unlike ancient Rome, South Africa is not burning. It is a thriving democracy that turns 21 next month, blossoming into a fully matured adult along with the complications that come with such changes. This ANC led government has developed sound policies and put in place concrete programmes that will douse any fire before it becomes an inferno.
Yes, we have challenges. The crime rate is still unacceptably high, levels of poverty and inequality must be reduced, and economic benefits are still skewed in favour of a tiny minority. But despite what the critics may believe, this country is on the correct path towards a trajectory of shared growth, development and poverty alleviation. Let us all put shoulder to the wheel.

OF STUDENTS PROTESTS: ZIMBABWE vs SOUTH AFRICA

by Senamiso Moyo | University of the Witwatersrand

As a Zimbabwean student studying in South Africa, the recent student protests that swept through the country were a strange occurrence. It was amazing to witness students gather in large numbers to fight against unrealistic tuition fee increases imposed by the universities.
The general feeling amongst most Zimbabwean students, as we watched our South African colleagues shut down universities, public roads and march to the Union Buildings (where the executive arm of government sits), was mostly fascinating and intriguing. Most of us grew up in post 1980 Zimbabwe and had never witnessed such a huge protest before. Where singing, dancing and generally disruptive behaviour on the streets was used by people to get the attention of the bigger heads and have their demands. Throughout most of the demonstrations we kept asking ourselves, “Where are the riot police? Or why don’t they just accept the increases? After all its life”
Not to say we don’t have protests and demonstrations in Zimbabwe, but they are usually dealt with so much more differently, especially if it concerns what the State considers trivial matters. Any gathering that seeks to disrupt the peace or the functioning of Civil Society is usually nullified before it becomes a matter to write home and report about.
However, throughout these protests we were exposed to the good and the bad of protest action and to some extent, we gained an understanding of why the Zimbabwean government deals with disruptions like this so swiftly. At first students were united in one movement which led to President Jacob Zuma announcing that there will be no fee increases for the year 2016. However, there was now a lot of external political interference riding on the wave of what was for a good cause. Various political institutions then used the student movement to pressurize the ANC government to provide free education and an end to non-standard labour practices within tertiary institution. The reasonableness of the demands was now seemingly lost and the majority of the students wanted to resume classes with final exams fast approaching.
What subsequently transpired was a huge conflict between the student bodies. There were the more politically inclined students who wanted to continue with the protests and the shutdown of campuses. Funded by rival political parties, they staged one of the longest on-campus occupations in history, defending their stance by any means, which included threats of violence. Then there were the majority of the students who accepted that 0% increase was reasonable and wanted to continue with exams, campus had of course been shut down for two weeks.
As part of the majority I began to understand why the Zimbabwean government dealt with disruptive action so swiftly. When the demands from protestors became unreasonable, everyone looked to the The South African Police Service (SAPS) to act. The University did everything within the ambit of the law to deter protestors. However, in respecting the right to freedom of protest afforded by the South African constitution, the SAPS just watched on and basically did nothing. Exams were postponed and this put a lot of students in danger of not graduating and foreign students whose permits were to expire soon in danger of having to leave the country without writing examinations. This is the great disadvantage with the right to protest, it affords the protesting party too much power, it seizes being negotiation and becomes a demand with no room for bargaining. This is only acceptable in so far as the protesting party does not abuse this right as the protestors did in this case.
The plight of poor students and exploited workers is one that I sympathise with deeply. However, any right that is afforded in any constitution, may be limited if it infringes on the rights and interests of another person. Zimbabwe and South Africa are two extremes, and there is still a long way to go in establishing a balance in this regard.

UCT Students’ Protest Turns Ugly!

By Zodidi Dano

University of Cape Town students frustrated with the housing crisis and other challenges, set paintings and a plaque from the Smuts Hall residence alight at the foot of Jameson stairs yesterday.

Earlier, students raided the dining hall at Fuller residence, and stripped the hall of its decor and paintings. The paintings were piled high and set alight, as students danced and chanted.

Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andrè Traut said police had been deployed to monitor the situation, but no arrests have been made. Police were still on the scene late last night.

UCT Prot1.jpg

UCT spokeswoman Gerda Kruger said: “The behaviour by RMF members is |criminal and has exceeded all possible limits of lawful protest action. We are deeply concerned for the safety of students and staff. We call on students to refrain from supporting RMF in these actions and to vacate the area.”

Earlier in the day, the university’s management had threatened to dismantle the Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) movement shack erected on Residence Road, Upper Campus. The one-roomed corrugated iron|structure, RMF said, was a representation of township life.

A portable toilet stall and two braai stands had been erected alongside the shack which had been cordoned off with chevron tape.

Inside the shack were a mattress, a table and a two-plate stove. The outside of the shack had been painted green, with the words “UCT housing crisis” scrawled across the back.

In a letter from the university’s management, it said the shack was interrupting traffic and pedestrian flow.

The letter asked the students to move the shack off Residence Road, to a grassy patch in front of Smuts Hall.
The letter read: “If you refuse to allow the officers to move the shack and the shack is still in its current position by 5pm we will unfortunately have no option but to take action to remove it.”

By the 5pm deadline, there was no sign of security or university officials present to dismantle the structure.

The students had barricaded a section of the road with tyres and wheelie bins and were singing and dancing around a small fire of dustbins and trash in the parking lot near the shack.

University spokesman Elijah Moholola said: “The reason the management has asked RMF to move the shack is that it has caused interference with traffic
flow, even to the point of causing a backlog on the M3 today.
“It interferes with the freedom of movement of other staff and students, and due to bins being set alight it causes safety risks.”

UCT Prot2.jpg

It was only at 6pm that the students gathered at the Jameson steps to hold a plenary which came to the decision of invading Fuller Hall’s dining room to find food.

The students entered the hall from the kitchen after kicking the door down.
They then helped themselves to food.

“We, the underprivileged students who have been protesting all day, are hungry,” said Zola Shokane of the RMF movement.

Shokane said members of the RMF were protesting against the housing crisis, financial exclusion and the management’s lack of commitment to promises made last year.
“We are homeless, there is no accommodation for us here. What else can we do.”
The hashtags ‪#‎HomelessAtUCT‬ and ‪#‎Shackville‬ were used to gain traction on social media.
UCT has 6 680 beds for 27 000 students.
“Some 75 percent of students live outside of the residence system,” Moholola said.

The university has asked homeowners with space in Cape Town to assist the university in providing residence for those with no accommodation.

Another student, Paleo Mokoena, also a member of RMF, said the shack would remain on Residence Road until vice-chancellor Max Price committed to meeting with them.

Mokoena said the letter was hand delivered to the group by the deputy vice chancellor.
“There is no signature, no letterhead and we saw they had about 20 copies of it handing it out to students.

“That is no form of communication – we scrunched those papers and threw them in the bin.”

RMF has created a book to record the number of students without accommodation.
By 5pm, at least 50 students had listed their names.

Mokoena said: “We are here to meet with management on our terms. Max Price must commit to a meeting with us.”

However, Kruger said: “We also delivered to Rhodes Must Fall a letter asking them to vacate Avenue Hall by 12pm on Friday this week.

“We have made repeated attempts to engage RMF on the matter of Avenue Hall and even to discuss the issue of alternative space but they have dismissed any attempt at engagement.
“They refuse to speak with the executive but consistently verbally abuse and threaten.

WATCH: http://tiny.cc/UCTProtests

 Pictures: David Ritchie
(Source: Cape Argus or get the app at www.myindependent.co.za)

Just like the economy, Zim’s education is headed for the drain

Sineke Sibanda

A statement from the University of Zimbabwe Students Representative Council caused my heart to sink for a while and to think that Zimbabwe was once known for the best brains in Africa, it would hurt to now think that it could all turn out to be a façade. It was ludicrously unbelievable that the breadbasket of Africa could turn out to be a bread-beggar as evidenced with recent news on shortages of various basic commodities such as maize among others. Sure, just like how the economy which was on the same performing level with that of China and Thailand in terms of GDP per capita in 1985 and now is missing in the global rankings, Zimbabwe’s education may take that route too, its standard recognition is close to being extinct.

A decade ago, industries were complaining that most universities were churning out students who lacked industrial backbone and suffered from knowledge deficiency. Come to think of it, by then, government was still subsidizing these tertiary institutions. Now that the government has put a full stop to that, I guess the country is yet to see the worst; a depreciation in education delivery, depreciation in student performance, depreciation in students’ lifestyles and a depreciation of the country, all because of the money, education has been moved from the centre, and money has taken the place. The institutions do need money, yes! But should it not be proportional to the service rendered?

Depreciation in education delivery will be inevitable at the once sunshine school of the country as the institution seeks to increase the number of students by means of instituting two intakes every year without instituting any adjustment to the staff and facilities at the college. One can only imagine that if a lecturer was attending to 40 students in one class in each stream, he or she had about 120-160 students every year. With the second intake, it means we multiply 120 by two, which gives us 240. Suffice not comment on the numbers, you can surely see the ridiculous mockery and insult to the education system. Is it just about the degree or it is also about the genuine quality of the degree? With time, Zimbabwe’s once recognized degrees in most developed countries will begin to be bogus and mere papers certifying students’ incompetence.

Another issue is the issue of students’ residential area. As we speak, the university of Zimbabwe cannot cater for all students’ accommodation. So where is the new crop of students joining in going to stay? Ordinarily, the general populace in Zimbabwe is broke and lives under $0.30 a day; there will obviously be need for new houses to be built, who will build them? The rich politicians? This reminds me of a concept mastered by a former students leader, Takura Zhangazha, ‘Disaster Capitalism’, a situation where you create a disaster and then you profit/benefit from it. This disaster being created here, from a distance looks so thoughtful, reasonable and absolute but in essence, someone has created an opportunity to loot from the already broke parents sending their children to school.

There has been a shift in dimensions in the policy of privatizing education, starting with the creation of many informal colleges, gradual increase in intakes every year, introduction of multi-campussing and that of annual double intakes pioneered by the Midlands State University. The goalposts have been disoriented and this has justified a nature of not exercising our intelligence in constructing counter proactive strategies other than all these reactionary strategies we are now implementing and are hurting every Zimbabwean. So you mean no one in the aging government foresaw the dwindling of funds and then advised on instigating a counter plan or a fundraising strategy to salvage any shortfalls? You mean all the other universities across the world are dependent on their governments to fund them? What other fundraising projects could be run to make colleges self-sustaining? Just last year, the UZ churned out 3 451 graduates, and you mean none of them had a research that could be pursued and later pay back or generate income for the university. If not, then what function are the colleges serving if they are not academically solving contemporary problems.

For how long has been the UZ since inception churning out students, how many researches have paid back in that big pool of graduates? This is so ridiculous, a lot of people have not been doing their jobs in these varsities other than slouching in their big chairs thinking of the next gimmick to generate and steal from students. What have the universities been investing in? One of the reasons why this country has taken a downward turn is because of the degrees awarded to selfish administrators with little or no brains at all.

This whole drama can be summed up in the words of one particular UZ professor who said the problem with Zimbabwe is that people want economic indigenisation without economic empowerment. There is lack of foresight, sustainable strategies and the ability to think beyond the obvious. The government can continue cutting all they want on staff, increasing the number of intakes and or of students, but this is all cosmetic and reactionary. There is need for winning strategies and genuine people doing their job, otherwise the country is headed for the doldrums; a point of no return…

ZINASU resists 2 UZ intakes per year

BY OBEY MANAYITI

THE Zimbabwe National Students’ Union (Zinasu) yesterday expressed displeasure at the University of Zimbabwe’s (UZ)decision to introduce two intakes per year, saying this will only pile pressure on scarce facilities at the State university.

Although the demonstration, organised by Zinasu at the UZ campus, flopped yesterday, reportedly due to heavy police presence, the student representative body said they would continue pushing to have the decision rescinded.

“We are defending the quality of education and reputation of our institution. As students, we can’t allow a situation where we will be at the receiving end,” Zinasu spokesperson, Zivai Mhetu said.

“We say no to the introduction of two intakes unless the university does infrastructure development first on key areas such as lecture rooms, hostels and the library.

“Any hurried decision will leave students in a sorry state, where they will be pushed to exchange accommodation for sex with gardeners and maids and other inhumane living conditions that will affect learning.”

But in an interview with NewsDay on Friday, UZ director of information, Daniel Chihombori dismissed claims that the introduction of two intakes was a move by the university to raise funds and fight competition from other universities like Midlands State University.

Chihombori defended the move, saying it was made to reduce the waiting period for university aspirants, as well as giving an opportunity to deserving candidates.

Asked if the university, which has about 4 000 carrying capacity in hostels, will be able to house the students, Chihombori said they would need support from the local communities to arrest the accommodation crisis.

Already surrounding neighbourhoods in Avondale, Mt Pleasant, Pomona and Vainona among others are making a killing renting out accommodation to students and might get more if demand increases.

However, Zinasu said it would continue mobilising it members until the university rectifies the matter.

“The heavy presence of police will not deter us as students and we will continue demonstrating until our plight is heard,” Mhetu said.

Source: Newsday

Tsvangirai not Mugabe strangled student politics: Response to Alex Magaisa

By Malvern Mkudu

Many have been joking that if this happened in Zimbabwe, the state would respond with a heavy hand and there would be casualties.

I believe this is the basis of Mr Alex Magaisa’s argument that Mugabe has strangled the student movement. He is yet to give the second instalment of his article but from the headline I thought it was befitting to respond forthwith.

He says that a cocktail of legislation was crafted to criminalise student politics and also restrict their activities. He is right. Yes the Mugabe government has deployed state machinery ruthlessly to deal with student dissent.

Students were beaten up, expelled and arrested. Is this what has strangled student politics? This is a simplistic view at best as we have seen students protesting in more harsh environments.

We have already seen that the South African government can react ruthlessly to dissent when police opened fired and killed miners in the Marikana incident. All governments normally react ruthlessly when faced with a formidable challenge. Zimbabwe is no exception. With the Marikana example, South African students could have thought twice about any protests and yet they came out in their numbers to confront the system.

What this shows is that no amount of state machinery can intimidate or stop a well drilled conscious student movement. Students can still come out to protest if there is a cause and if they are organised.

Much of the legislation that was invoked by the state in Zimbabwe to suppress student politics existed in the colonial state and yet students during the late 1980s and 1990s successfully took on the Mugabe government on many issues. These students confronted the state despite facing genuine threats from the state then.

The likes of Arthur Mutambara, Tendai Biti and Takura Zhangazha operated under equally dangerous conditions with the state determined to silence its opponents. I remember my own brother would always come back home and narrate ordeals of police brutality during student demonstrations. The state has always been heavy handed on dissent but students defied these restrictions and went toe to toe with the government.

I remember vividly hearing stories of helicopters being deployed at the University of Zimbabwe to quell disturbances there. Dumiso Dabengwa then Home Affairs Minister would deploy armed police to deal with students at the University of Zimbabwe.

So what changed? We have often not spoken about the disempowering effect of donor money and the meddlesome opposition politicians who sought to make civil society subservient to them in their quest for political power.

The emergence of the Movement for Democratic Change and its ‘annexation’ of the student movement and labour movement through the help of donor money was the beginning of the end for student politics.

What started as a political alliance ended up as a relationship of ‘master and servant ‘with the opposition MDC completely dominating civic groups and controlling the political agenda.

Once the student leaders aligned themselves openly with the opposition MDC, it gave the ruling party the perfect excuse to curtail student politics.

Of course in any democratic country, people are free to align themselves with political parties of their choice without fear of retribution but once the students took sides they were treated as political opponents rather than a civic society grouping.

South African students on the other hand asked Democratic Alliance president, Mmusi Maimane to respectfully leave when they were conducting their demonstrations.

This was an unequivocal message to political parties that student protests were non-partisan and students did not appreciate their struggle being hijacked by political parties for political expediency.

But in Zimbabwe students openly took political sides and participated in the ‘Mugabe must go’ political agenda. Now in South Africa president Zuma stands accused of corruption and many other things but students have stayed out of this debate and allowed politicians to fight it out themselves. Once the Mugabe must go discourse had fizzled out so did the student movements.

Many student leaders sold the soul of the student movement to politicians particularly those in opposition politics. What followed is that student politics lost its credibility and therefore ability to mobilise students of different political persuasions on common matters.

Now Zimbabwean students have been reduced to rebels without a cause save for a successful demonstration they conducted early this year when students had been evicted from University accommodation.

At some point the Tsvangirai led MDC stood accused of sponsoring division in the Zimbabwe National Association of Students Unions (ZINASU). Even up to now there are two ZINASU’s with one loyal to Tendai Biti’s PDP and the other to Tsvangirai’s MDC. There is also ZICOSU which is loyal to ZANU PF.

Such is the sad case of students’ politics that students have been apportioned to different political groupings and are therefore not united.

In 2010 for example, ZINASU split on the basis of whether to participate in constitutional making process or not. The MDC was basically pushing the constitution making agenda along with ZANU PF. The group that had Morgan Tsvangirai’s backing led by Brilliant Dube eventually prevailed at the expense of the group led by Clever Bere which was against participating in the constitution making process.

Those who were familiar with the goings on in civil society at that time talk of huge perks for student leaders and how money exchanged hands. The MDC was heavily funded and had resources to influence proceedings in civil society. With their money they ‘bought and corrupted’ student leaders. Ultimately the opposition party took control of student politics and silenced the voices of the students.

While it was seen as a strategic move and a victory back then, events now show that the victory was hollow as it had the effect of disempowering the student movement in many ways. I have already mentioned that once it openly aligned itself with partisan political interests, the student movement compromised its own legitimacy and credibility.

Secondly by meddling in partisan political warfare the student movement became a political foe of the ruling party and was therefore treated as such. Politics tends to get dirty especially when power is at stake. Students asked for it when they openly sided with political players.

For many student leaders who came after the militant Mutambaras, student politics was viewed as a spring board for entering mainstream politics. One just needs to look at the number of former student leaders who now occupy senior positions in the various opposition political parties. Neutral students saw this and they could no longer be used as springboards to launch political careers by some individuals.

Collective action was futile especially when it was clear to all that most of the student leaders were in pursuit of their own individual political interests. Students were demanding that Mugabe must go instead of articulating their own issues. It was clear that the student movement had seized to represent the primary interests of ordinary students.

It was therefore Tsvangirai’s attempt to capture the student movement that strangled student politics not President Mugabe as claimed by Magaisa.

Tsvangirai through use of donor money compromised and corrupted the student movement and therefore silenced it. I don’t know if this was done intentionally or not but the effects are now all too clear for all of us to see.

While state brutality is responsible for student apathy, many students are no longer interested in student politics because it is evident that student politics does not talk to their everyday issues. It is not too late for students to get back to basics but first and foremost they must free themselves from political control by the various political parties that are competing for political space in the country.

The political parties must also come to a realisation that it is not prudent to control civic groups such as student groups. These are best left to determine their own agendas. Smart political parties especially those in the opposition know that they must not control civil society. They just need to be strategic enough to be able to ride on and harness social discontent.

Students have been demobilised and have become disorganised. It is time to go back to the drawing board.

Post initially published on  link

Malvern Mkudu writes in his personal capacity. He can be contacted on mmmkudu@gmail.com.

How Mugabe Strangled the Zimbabwean Students’ Movement (Part 1)

By Alex T. Magaisa

People who don’t read their history are bound to forget it or to repeat its mistakes. They also tend to be overawed by events elsewhere, believing them to be new, when in fact, they are not.

The latter, especially, has been apparent in the last couple of weeks as events at universities around South Africa have unfolded, in what history will record as the #FeesMustFall students’ protests. The students’ movement in South Africa succeeded as their Government caved in to their demands to stop the increase in university fees. This has generated a lot of excitement, and for some, comparisons with events in Zimbabwe.

A number of Zimbabweans, many of a generation too young to remember events in our own country barely 25 years ago, have looked at what happened in South Africa, and asked why Zimbabweans have not been able to do the same, in the face of their own, even more serious challenges. Some in the media have even referred to it as ‘Protest Envy’, among Zimbabweans, suggesting how we, Zimbabweans, must feel seeing that our neighbours south of the Limpopo have the freedom to protest and achieve results in the manner they did. We must be envious, that they can do that, the thinking goes. Forgotten in all this is that we have been there before. We know that road too well.

As these events unfolded, I was reminded of a conversation I had back in 1998, 17 years ago, with a group of South African students. They had visited Zimbabwe for a conference of Southern African students’ unions, hosted by Zinasu, the national students’ movement body in Zimbabwe. I had already left the University of Zimbabwe the year before but Zinasu invited me to come and talk about free speech and academic freedom. Learnmore Jongwe, then the leader of Zinasu was a friend and I was happy to oblige.

At the time, our own students’ unions were very vibrant and active. They were facing similar challenges regarding university fees and students’ support and welfare which had been progressively eroded since the early 1990s. The decade since 1988 had witnessed numerous students’ protests, first at the UZ and later at NUST, the other university and various colleges.

I ended my speech with a warning to students from other countries, especially South Africa, that they had to remain vigilant, in order to avoid the path that Zimbabwe had taken. I advised against complacency in the euphoria of independence, which at the time, seemed to be encapsulated by the notion of the “Rainbow Nation”, which was then quite fashionable. One of the South African students responded, with a swagger in his voice that betrayed a slight hint of arrogance. “It won’t happen in South Africa,” he declared, before adding, “In South Africa, we are not like that. We have a democratic government and a robust constitution”. His compatriots nodded in approval. South Africa was different, the young men and women believed. I had a chuckle and said time would tell.

I have never forgotten that encounter at the humble abode of the YMCA in Kambuzuma, a busy suburb in western Harare, where the conference was being held. After Marikana, I thought about it. And in recent weeks, I have thought about it, too, as the students’ protests spread across campuses. Was it new? No. Was it unique? Again, no. At least in historical terms. It’s a pity I may never meet that group of students again, but it would be interesting to have an audit discussion over how South Africa has fared since that conference.

The point here is not to relegate the significance of the events in South Africa, but it is important not to lose sight of the bigger picture. If it sounds new, it is because people don’t read or choose not to remember history, or if they do, to so selectively. All across Africa, after a few years of post-independence euphoria, people have eventually woken up to the harsh realities of the system under which they are governed. Oft-times, it begins with students at universities and colleges. And there are good reasons why those places are brewing pots of initial challenges to the system.

There, at universities and colleges, there is a mass concentration of young, intelligent and open-minded people and their instructors, operating under the protective umbrella of academic freedom. They are engaged in the pursuit of knowledge. These intellectual enquiries introduce them to new ways of thinking, and to past struggles for liberty, equality and fairness. These ideas have huge appeal among the young and ambitious minds. Indeed, the young men and women begin to identify themselves with heroic figures from the past. They discover the great Che Guevara, Kwame Nkrumah, Amilcar Cabral, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Frantz Fanon, Karl Marx and many more of the great figures from the past. The stories of these men and women, and their philosophies are hugely inspiring. Some even adopt their names, and for a few, it is by those monikers that society will forever remember them.

In a nutshell, the young men and women at universities and colleges begin to see the bigger picture, far beyond their enclaves, the little villages and towns in which they grew up. They begin to see the inequalities and injustices of the system, both at the national and international levels and they are outraged by what they learn. They are no longer just adding figures or constructing sentences but learning the ways of the world. In short, they make an important discovery of their historic role in society and begin to call themselves the “Voice of the Voiceless”, often wearing apparel declaring the same.

They form societies to challenge these undesirable aspects of the world. In all this, the students union has a central role. It is the rallying point for all students and societies. The students own it. They claim territorial sovereignty over this space, which they guard jealously from the authorities of the university and the State. It is a key part of university and college life, indeed a key institution in the governance structure of the university and college administration. But by its very nature and its role, it becomes a point of interest to authorities, who begin to see it as a threat. And for that reason, it has to be monitored, indeed, it must be subdued.

The students are often the first in society to see that there is something wrong with the national governance system. They are in the business of reading and reading gives them awareness and knowledge of what is happening in society. They have the energy, zeal and exuberance of youth, which often manifests as bravery and fearlessness. And so, they lead from the front, usually first in matters of self-interest, such as fees and welfare, and then when they discover the power of protest, they begin to grapple with matters of general interest to society – human rights, democracy, anti-corruption, solidarity with workers, etc. Actually, in Zimbabwe, it was the other way round, as they began with matters of public interest – corruption, anti-one-party state – in the late 1980s, before they were seized with matters of self-interest – academic freedom, fees, accommodation, students’ welfare.

The irony is that in all this time, the rest of the population might even regard the students as a nuisance, as a bunch of spoilt young people who are not grateful for what they are getting, things like access to higher education which the colonial system restricted from them. The nascent black middle-class, which is not yet fully developed but aspiring for more wealth and status, is especially the most threatened. They have recently joined the propertied class and they are protective of their possessions from these university ‘hooligans’ as the state and its media calls them. This friction between students and middle-class society is not helped by the fact that in their zealous approach, which is often in excess, they engage in destructive conduct – stoning and burning cars, houses and buildings, and generally displaying behaviour of a rowdy character.

Those in government, who increasingly regard themselves more exclusively as the sole liberators of the nation, are less amused, too. They might even curse students for not being grateful of the freedom they enjoy, a freedom which they, the liberators painstakingly delivered. Some in government begin to mull ways of teaching the young people a lesson. Those in security and intelligence begin to characterise students as a threat to national security. In time, the instruments of state security are unleashed upon the students.

At the same time, as we shall see in the case of Zimbabwe, the State begins to craft legislation that is designed to progressively weaken the students’ movement. And when the rest of society finally wakes up to the realities unleashed by their government and joins the students, the scene is set for bitter clashes with the ruling establishment. The ruling establishment will drop all pretences of democracy and morph into a brutal force. For legitimacy, it grounds its actions upon defence of liberation and sovereignty and re-brands students, civil society and the opposition as agents of Western imperialism. It restates a commitment to fighting neo-colonialism and therefore, doing all that is necessary to defeat the enemy. It re-discovers its mission as an agent of social justice and begins an attack on the institution of private property on the basis that it is pursuing the historic mission of redistribution.

What I have described above reflects in broad terms what happened in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, in particular, the relationship between the State, society and the students’ movement. Many people observing the #FeesMustFall protests around South African universities have been asking why Zimbabwean students and Zimbabweans generally are unable to do what the South African students have done. They probably don’t remember that we were there long before these events. We even had a pub at the students’ union at the UZ, October 4 was its name, so-named in honour of an historic day in the history of the students’ movement in Zimbabwe. It happened on 4th October 1989, when the UZ was shut down for the first time since independence, following demonstrations and clashes with police who had been deployed to thwart students’ protests. I shall describe in more detail the circumstances around October 4 in Part 2 of this series.

It is against this general background, that one must understand how, over the years, the Mugabe Government managed to strangle the students’ movement in Zimbabwe. In the next part, I will look in more detail at the ways in which the power of the students’ movement was progressively diluted using a multi-faceted set of strategies and tactics to the point where now, the students’ movement is generally weak and ineffectual. Then perhaps, it might become more apparent why a #FeesMustFall-type of protest is almost impossible in today’s Zimbabwe, but more importantly, why the apparent success of the South African students’ movement on this occasion must be read with caution. They have lessons to learn from their neighbours north of the Limpopo, and indeed, across the rest of Africa. And no, as many will discover, South Africa is not very different from the rest of us.

NUST STUDENTS CALL FOR SRC PRESIDENTS’ RESIGNATION

by Musavengana Hove and Tariro Moyo

Students at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) have called for the immediate resignation
of SRC president Shadowlit Ndou following serious allegations that he squandered more than US$3 000
which was meant to cater for accommodation of about 70 students who attended President Mugabe’s
lavish birthday bash in Victoria falls over the weekend.
Precious Dzigwe, secretary for education in the SRC, said that Mr. Ndou has to step down as the SRC
president as he is bringing the name of the institution into disrepute.
“We cannot create a hive of thieves at a respected institution like this. He must step down with
immediate effect and as a result we are mobilizing students to pass a vote of no confidence on him,”
said Dzigwe.
Another student at NUST, Talent Magara, urged students to boycott all activities at the institution which
are being bankrolled by the SRC saying participation in these activities will be tantamount to endorsing
Mr. Ndou’s thievery and tomfoolery.
“As students we are saying Shadow has stretched our patience to the limit. We have insinuated our
hearts; we are even ready to confront him heads on. Students should boycott every forthcoming activity
which is spearheaded by him and his bunch of bootlickers. Miss NUST pageant and the inter-faculty
games scheduled for next week must be boycotted. We cannot continue giving him room for theft
through these functions,” said Magara who is also ZINASU treasury general at NUST.
Another SRC member who requested anonymity alleged that Mr. Ndou proposed for $6 420 from the
institution, but the institution through the Vice chancellors’ vote gave him $5 784 but he only used a
paltry $2 000 out of the whole sum of money.
The SRC member further alleged that Mr.
Ndou confined in him that he abused the
funds together with other SRC members who attended the jamboree but he took the lion’s share as the
SRC boss enraging his lieutenants who are now leaking the information to the students.
We are reliably informed that the institution transferred the sum of money into Ndou’s bank account
instead of the treasurer’s account as per procedure.
Contacted for comment Mr. Ndou confirmed that the money was deposited into his personal account.
“As the custodian of the SRC there is nothing wrong with the money being transferred into my personal
account, since the treasurer wasn’t going to the celebrations. I channeled the money towards
accommodation not what my detractors are imagining,” he said.
However, a student who attended the President’s birthday bash but declined to be named for fear of
reprisal said all 70 students were stranded in Victoria Falls because Ndou just gave them $3 each from
the whole sum of money he was given by the institution.
“We slept in the bus on Friday and mosquito fisted on us,” narrated the student.
Commenting on this issue which is now “a–talk-of- the-campus”, another SRC member Paddington
Madyira said there is nothing new in Ndou’s monkeyshines since other members of the student body
from the VP, Treasurer, Secretary General and other councilors are also thieves who are also looting
funds meant for student welfare but only angry because Ndou ate the cake which there were also
enviously eying.
“During the club expo exhibition which was held recently here at campus, a sum of $600 which was
meant to award competing students was kept and the VP Nelson Gwarare demanded $300 from that
amount, a thing that didn’t please other members who wanted it to be evenly shared. Therefore for
them to say Shadow must go because he is the only thief that’s utter lies. They just want to create a
greater opportunity for them to access the coffers which Ndou is guarding jealously,” fumed Madyira.
This is not the first time that SRC leaders at NUST have diverted funds to their personal use. In 2012,
former SRC leader Lovejoy Nikisingorima left students stranded at Chinhoyi University when they went for
ZUSA games.

IN A CLASS OF HIS OWN: SHADOWLIT NDOU SIDIJA

presidentBirth Name: Shadowlit Ndou Sidila

Date of Birth: October 15 1989

Home Town: Beitbridge

Status: In a Serious relationship

Hobbies: watching movies,going out especially to nature reserves.

Some present day politicians display inborn talent and skill. Most of our elites have forgotten the fact that “example is more valuable than advice.”

The NUST President is known for his good looks and his love for  fashion as he is seen in different matching suits all the time.

He is an outspoken young men with a zeal for politics and the betterment of NUST students.

” I am working on the Zim Asset model, that is attainable through encouraging Entrepreneurship.” said Ndou ” We are trying by all means to help students to be self sufficient and loosen the burdens on their parents.”

Most people look at him and see an ideal leader as he tries by all means to lead by example, today he was handing condoms to all students on Campus, ” I Know we doing this so why not protect ourselves.”

He is enthusiastic about the Zim asset issue as he is heard saying that Nust students should “think in other terms” and live up to the University motto.

This can only be attained if the clubs on campus are functional and they receive funding from the Institution so that they are fully achieve this.

During his first days in office, he had a hard time dealing with the acting dean of students, Ms Magida, who he says strongly despised him and was at some point a hindrance to his plans. He also cited time constraints as some of the challenges to implement working policies for Nust.

“Given an opportunity to work a normal year I would achieve a lot,” said the president

When asked about how he would assist the conventional students who are currently not learning , he boldly said ” I am going to Harare today I will talk to Olivia Muchena, the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development as the Chairman of the National Students board ( a board that looks at issues that local University administrators cannot address).

By Michelle NQ Mulingo. Follow @QuenethM
http://mulingomichelle.blogspot.com