Tag Archives: NEWS

You might have to carry generator and push lawnmower to gas station in Zimbabwe

Own Correspondent|Lupane State University
One minute read

HARARE – Zimbabwean government says it will ban the use of jerry cans at service stations to prevent people from hoarding fuel.

Energy Minister Joram Gumbo said the ban on fuel containers is meant to prevent hoarding.

He’s told state media that service stations that allow customers to hoard fuel risk having their operating licenses cancelled.

Zimbabweans on Twitter were irked by the announcement and aren’t relishing the implications of the government’s move.

Does this mean that an ordinary man will have to apply to authorities to use his jerrycan?

Will the ordinary man have to push his car if it runs out of fuel say 5kms away from the gas station?

Fuel supplies ran out last week, sparked by panic buying and foreign currency shortages.

There were long queues and widespread fears that the country was sliding back into the hyper-inflationary crisis it went through 10 years ago.

Image credit:@malonm10

Advertisements

Students’ protests ‘Pfeeeeee’ as kombi fares hike

By Staff Reporters

2 minute read

As the economy continues to spiral out of control, with basic commodities’ prices shooting up, students haven’t been spared from the madness.

From the 50cents, that was already too high for them, UZ students woke up to find that there’ll be yet another adjustment to their budgets.

UZ students - byo 24
UZ students protests. Credit: bulawayo24.com

“Kana zvikanesta toenda netsoka” was the new slogan at the University of Zimbabwe today as students protested against the newly introduced kombi fares of 75 cents, which rendered their daily dollar deals obsolete, taking away the value a single dollar had in their lives.

Speaking to Campus Moments Magazine, a UZ student only identified as Tkay condemned the hike as daylight robbery, arguing that it was not consistent with their budgets.

“Its not fair you know, we are only students and are not working and we cant cope with these fares. My ‘coin’ has lost its value and my budget is already strained for me to squeeze out $1.50 for transport,” Tkay said.

In a short video in possession of this publication, students were chanting slogans and vowing to resort to walking than to pay the extra $0.50 cents for a return trip on top of the dollar they were used to paying

This challenge hit hard especially students who stay away from the college premises.

Another UZ student, Tariro Mandiri said, “I paid $0.75 today, they were not negotiating anything. I think we are the most affected and we wouldn’t have to worry about all this if we had enough accommodation in rez.”

According to Tawanda, a kombi driver who ferries UZ students, the ongoing economic crunch and fuel shortages in the country is what has necessitated their unwelcome review of prices.

combi pic
hararenews.co.zw

“If you look closely, as commuters, we have been reluctant to react to the ongoing economic challenge, but at the end of the day, we are in this for profits. Everything has gone up, and if we continue charging what we were charging, we would better park these vehicles,” said Tawanda.

Another kombi driver, Nicholas Chebvute argued that the fuel queues were also eating into their productive time, forcing them into the black market.

“To be frank, if we are to follow the queues, it would be hard to make anything,’ Chebvute said, “so we are forced to buy from the black market where a mere 5 litres costs $10 where as I could get the same at a very reasonable cost of about $7 but we are a time sensitive businesses and we cant spend more than an hour in a fuel queue because that is a complete trip.”

As the economy continues on a downward path, the students’ community has continued to press the government to take the necessary steps to abate the situation so as to save the future of the nation littered across colleges.

If you are student in college and would like to write on this platform, get in touch with us here: newsroom@campusmoments.org

Update: Nust Cricket Squad Succumbs to 3rd Defeat in Redbull Campus Cricket World Finals against United Arab Emirates

Staff Writer
Less than a minute read 

NUST succumbed to a 3rd defeat in their 3rd match of the tournament on Tuesday against United Arab Emirates. United Arab Emirates lads won by 3 wickets.

Even though Team Nust played much better than they have done in the past two matches against university teams from Bangladesh and Pakistan with a run rate of 7.5, their target of 120 runs in 16 overs was reached by the rivals in 13 overs.

Batsman Syed Faizan, Man of the match from UAE, did the most damage by scoring 7 sixes and 4 fours.

However, Anele Ngwenya and Tawanda Charumbira did well to limit the rivals’ scores with superb bowling. Anele had the best economy rate in the game, a lean 2.25, coupled with 3 wickets in 4 overs.

Mthandazo Moyo’s fine catching and batting partnership with Mzingaye Mdlongwa also contributed to the less embarrassing defeat today.

The NUST boys will play the Sri Lanka and India in the next two matches before the tournament enters the penultimate stage.

NUST (Zim) Kit for 2018 Redbull Campus Cricket World Finals Unveiled

Staff Reporter
Less than a minute read

THE National University of Science and Technology men’s cricket team will face Campus  Cricket champions from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and hosts Sri Lanka  in the Red Bull World Campus Cricket tournament to be held  from 23 to 29 September 2018.

As usual, Team Zim will be sporting a red colored kit with gold accents.

NUST will play Pakistan in their opening match of  the #RebullCampusCricket World Finals in Sri Lanka.

India will face Bangladesh while Sri Lanka take on United Arab Emirates.

The competition is the only T20 cricket tournament available for students globally.

Nust vice chancellor appointed

By Nqobile Tshili | Chronicle
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has appointed Professor Mqhele Dlodlo as National University of Science and Technology (Nust) Vice Chancellor with immediate effect.

Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister, Prof Amon Murwira confirmed the appointment yesterday.

“We received confirmation from His Excellency. The appointment is with immediate effect. When he starts work that’s an issue of Chairman of Council Ambassador Zenzo Nsimbi,” said Prof Murwira.

The university has been operating without a substantive Vice Chancellor since the expiry of the late Prof Lindela Ndlovu’s contract in 2015.

The university’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Prof Samson Sibanda has been acting since then.

Prof Murwira said Prof Dlodlo has a mammoth task to address the challenges at Nust.

Nust has been experiencing some problems that have resulted in lecturers going on strike protesting against alleged mismanagement.

Prof Murwira said Government will fully support Prof Dlodlo to ensure that there are positive developments at Nust. “There is a lot of work to be done at Nust and we will support Prof Dlodlo to enable him to deliver. We should not spend our time bickering but we must deliver,” said Prof Murwira.

He said he was mindful of the fact that the absence of a substantive Vice Chancellor could have negatively affected the university’s operations and was confident the challenges facing the institution will soon be addressed.

Prof Dlodlo served as a principal lecturer and head of Electrical Craft Department at Bulawayo Polytechnic from 1983 to 1992.

In 2000, he joined Nust as a senior lecturer in the department of Electronic Engineering before being promoted to the post of Dean in the faculty of Industrial Technology from May 2002 to December 2003.

He joined the University of Cape Town as an Associate professor in January 2005 and also served as Assistant Dean in Internationalisation from January 2011 to December 2015. At the time of his appointment as Nust vice chancellor, Prof Dlodlo was still working in South Africa. — @nqotshili.

 

Teenage whizz-kid makes UZ history

History was made since the founding of the University of Zimbabwe in 1953 when 18-year-old academically-gifted Maud Chifamba graduated with a Bachelor of Accountancy Honours yesterday.

She was among 3 667 graduates from nine faculties and the College of Health Sciences who were capped by President Mugabe at the institution of higher learning.

As of 2012, Chifamba was the youngest university student in Africa. She was born in 1997 in Zimbabwe and was accepted to the University of Zimbabwe to read for an accounting degree.

The teenage whizz-kid began attending in 2012 and also received a $9 933 scholarship from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority Chairman’s Charity Fund. Chifamba lost her father when she was five, in 2002, before she started first grade.

By that time, her mother was suffering from cancer and could not care for her and her brother, two years younger.

This prompted Maud to fall under the care of a step brother, who at the time was residing at a plot he had been allocated during the land reform programme in Hunters Road, in between Kwekwe and Gweru, Midlands Province, Zimbabwe.

In 2003 she started her first grade at a school named Hurudza Primary school. In 2005, when she was in grade 3, during the mid year exams, she was mistakenly given a grade 4 exam paper in which she scored 100 percent. The following term during the same year, she requested a Grade 5 test paper in which she achieved the highest score.

She proceeded to Grade seven and she had 6 units. As Chifamba did not have money for high school she studied on her own(home schooled) and completed her Ordinary Level in just two years, that was 2009. She was later identified by the Ministry of Education and awarded financial assistance for her advanced level, upper six in 2011 and she scored 12 points.

Her mother died of cancer that year. After making headlines internationally, Chifamba was awarded a $9,993 scholarship by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority. In 2013 Chifamba scored distinctions at the University of Zimbabwe, where she was studying for her Bachelor of Accountancy Honours Degree.

She wrote her Grade seven examination at the age of 10 and her A-level at the age of 13. In 2007 Chifamba was named the best student under the most difficult conditions in the Midlands Province.

In December 2012, Chifamba was fifth on the Forbes Top 100 Youngest Powerful Women in Africa and she was also entered in the book of African Records as the youngest university student in the continent.

In October 2013, Chifamba was a delegate at the launching of a Terre des hommes campaign for girls in Rome, Italy. On 25 October 2013, Chifamba shared the high table at the International Day of the Girl Child celebrations with ministers and musicians. The event was hosted by UNICEF, held in Zimbabwe and she delivered a speech.

Faculties that graduated yesterday are Agriculture, Arts, Commerce, Education, Engineering, Law, Science, Social Studies and Veterinary Science. Of the graduates, 3 106 were conferred with first degrees, 535 with Masters Degrees and 25 with Doctor of Philosophy degrees.

Among the graduates, 25 were conferred with Doctor of Philosophy degrees and from those graduating with bachelors’ degrees, 149 had first class passes. For the first time in the history of the University, an 18-year old student was also conferred with her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting.

The graduate, Maud Chifamba, joined the University at the age of 14 years and completed her degree at the age of 18 years. This year’s graduation ceremony also saw the first pioneering graduates of the Marondera University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.

In his address, UZ Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura, described this year’s ceremony as historic saying all these achievements were a first in the 61 year history of the University. He said the University will continue to engage with various stakeholders and strategic partners for continuous improvement and to remain relevant.

“We do recognise that our society is getting more complex with dynamic varying sets of requirements,” said Prof Nyagura. He said this presented a challenge that called for a re-thinking of the nature of the public service the university should provide.

Prof Nyagura said to that end, the University’s focus should be more on socialisation of knowledge by making sure that the university produced highly-qualified professionals and that the best research results were transferred to society.

He said the UZ was also open to capture the knowledge generated by society so as to sustain and further develop the intellectual and cultural base of the country.

“In this endeavour, we have committed ourselves to participate in national projects that empower our country to be competitive regionally, continentally and internationally,” said Prof Nyagura.

He said in addition, the University also reviewed its curriculum to promote innovation, application of science and technology and entrepreneurship. “Our focus is to produce graduates with a strong foundation in science and technology and with problem solving and analytical skills,” he said.

Some of the training incorporated include Forensic Science, Geospatial Intelligence and Aeronautical Engineering. Prof Nyagura said the university had also excelled in the development of GIS (Geographic Information System) and Earth Observation Sciences.

“The motivation for this development is the realisation that geographic sciences are key to human security including disaster and emergency response, crime and terrorism prevention, surveillance of diseases and disease vector outbreaks,” he said.

He said the University’s GIS and Earth Observation Centre had since been assigned by the African Union to carry out two major tasks. Nyagura said the University also embarked on a number of projects aimed at increasing infrastructure to meet the growing demand of education.

These projects include a building complex with 10 state of the art lecture rooms with a combined sitting capacity of 1000, a pharmacy laboratory that accommodates 130 students and an engineering computer laboratory fully equipped with 100 state of the art computers.

The University also constructed three additional lecture rooms with a combined sitting capacity of 200 and is currently constructing a 1 100-seater modern lecture theatre.

Source: The Herald

Nust students develop data management system

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI(newsday.co.zw)

Zimbabwe appears to be on the sidelines and indeed at the “back of the line” when it comes to technological advances. But two young men from National University of Science and Technology (Nust) have recently challenged that dogma.

The duo, Richard Macklin Kunhuwa and Godknows Mdhari developed an affordable school management system that seeks to digitalise local schools.

“Well, I think I got a bit frustrated that almost all the software we use in this country are not locally made yet we have the best education on the continent,” Kunhuwa a final year Engineering student at Nust, said

Richard-Macklin-Kunhuwa-L-and-Godknows-Mdhari-1
Richard Macklin (left) and Godknows Mdhari (right) of NUST have developed a school management system that seeks to digitalise local schools

 

“If we could find a way to actually use our skills to address local problems, we will really become a powerhouse in Africa. We realised that a lot of our local schools do not have a proper digitalised record keeping system, so I teamed up with a friend who was studying Records Management to build this system.”
He said the software system was fast, powerful and very affordable.

“We also understand the challenges we face in this country of poor internet connections etc. that’s why we build this system to not require internet connections,” Kunhuwa said.

“We also have built a team of dedicated technicians who are available 24/7 if any problems arise. I think that’s also our advantage over foreign online systems.”

Mdhari, who is also the Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union chairperson, said the goal was to build a better Zimbabwe through creative thinking and innovation.

“It goes without saying that this is how we can solve the biggest problem in this country of unemployment,” he said.

“When Richard approached me with the idea last year during my attachment period at the Nust Information and Communication Technology Services department, I saw it as a noble idea as the system gathers and processes records such as student records, staff records, payment and receipts records allowing administration to make quick and informed decisions in real timer and with required support, the system is targeted to go regional in assisting convenient information management,” he said.

However, the two are finding it hard to compete against products from well-established companies.

“We have to compete with products from Microsoft which is a multibillion company. However, if we could get support from locally I think we will make it. We implore the government to support us a little bit. Our growth is their growth and we are going to raise the country’s flag higher,” Kunhuwa said.

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

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.

Zimbabwe's Leading Lifestyle CampusZine

%d bloggers like this: