Tag Archives: POLITICS

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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I’m Zimbabwe, and I’m in an abusive relationship with Zanu PF

by Thandekile Moyo | @mamoxn 
5 minute read

MY name is Zimbabwe and I am in an abusive relationship with Zanu PF.

Domestic abuse is defined as “chronic mistreatment in marriages, families, dating and other intimate relationships”.

In 1979, a woman named Lenore E. Walker developed a social theory known as the cycle of abuse which explains patterns of behavior found in abusive relationships. Initially, it was called the battered women syndrome as in her study Lenore had only interviewed women who had been subject to domestic violence. Further study has shown this cycle applies in most cases of abuse regardless of whether it is men abusing women, women abusing men, men abusing other men or women on women abuse.

What she discovered is that abuse follows a certain pattern that becomes a cycle repeated over and over again until it is broken by either the abused person leaving, intervention from a third party and in some cases, death.

I have examined my relationship with Zanu PF and I have no doubt the relationship we have fits the cycle of abuse to the tee. The cycle has been modified over the years but basically has the following phases that are repeated over and over again over long periods of time.

* Honeymoon phase
* Tension building phase
* Explosive phase
* Reconciliation or calm phase

I started dating Zanu PF in 1980 after he saved me from Rhodesia, another abuser I will not dwell much on. To win my affections Zanu PF fought Rhodesia to the bitter end and drove them almost completely out of my life. I remember my independence from Rhodesia like it was yesterday. We marked it with massive celebrations that lasted late into the night. Zanu PF was my knight in shining amour. He offered me a sense of security and I felt he loved me dearly. This was undoubtedly our first honeymoon phase.

About a year later, Zanu PF accused me of infidelity. He’s a jealous man you see. He thought I wanted to leave him for ZAPU and went into a raging fit. I tried everything to convince him he was seeing things. He then told me he knew ZAPU was hiding arms caches which they wanted to use to destroy him, so as to take me from him. He made wild accusations and told me I was hiding ZAPU and did not love him. He then withdrew all his love and threatened to wipe out my family. This was the first tension building phase.

The first explosive phase came unexpectedly. There was nothing I could have done to stop it. Under the #Gukurahundi code name, Zanu PF killed thousands of people accusing them of hiding ZAPU. I have never known such fear in my life. I couldn’t believe he was capable of such. He said I had pushed him to do it. I made him kill them. I would weep day and night because of the pain he caused me. I told his family but they didn’t believe me. I found myself thinking it would be better to leave him and told him so.

When he realised I was about to leave his change was “catapultic”. He apologised profusely and promised he would never do it again. On the 22nd of December 1987, he and my father signed a unity accord. He agreed to go for counselling. Said he loved me, couldn’t imagine a life without me and therefore asked me to stay. He promised there would be no more violence. Some say my father only agreed so that the killings of my people back home would stop. I don’t know. Typical of abusers, after that Zanu PF chose to completely ignore the incident. This marked our first reconciliation phase.

The next few years were relatively calm. I can safely say we went back to the honeymoon phase. We all got along great and he was the man I had fallen in love with once again. Some of my relatives still hated him for the earlier incidents but to be honest I simply tried to forget about the incident. Although through it all I watched what I said, was on my best behaviour and tried not to provoke him.

In 1999, the MDC came on the scene and the tensions yet again began. MDC continued trying to woo me and in 2008 I decided to give him a chance. This led to another explosive phase where Zanu PF tortured and murdered my cousins and other relatives whom he accused of encouraging me to leave him. He beat us all into submission until we agreed to another unity accord. He decided to give MDC a few rights to me, what they called a power sharing deal.

We entered another calm phase and in 2013 I forgave him completely and broke all ties with MDC. We were back to the honeymoon phase which ended with another jealous rage on August 1, 2018. Since then we have been in the reconciliation phase. He is up to his usual tricks, has asked neighbours to come and help him wash his hands of the blood of August 1. He’s promising me the world again and claiming he has changed for the better. He is a new man, he says, and calls this the “new dispensation” of our marriage. I do not know what to make of it.

A few days ago he called in my brother Zenzele Ndebele for questioning because he intends to show a documentary of Gukurahundi, an era he refuses to acknowledge at all. He also sent his police force to arrest my friends in town, the vendors, who retaliated with surprising violence. Through all this my beloved Zanu PF takes no responsibility for his actions. ZAPU pushed him into Gukurahundi. He denies 2008 killings ever happened. He says MDC incited the August 1 army killings. He has never admitted to any wrong-doing. He says the vendors provoked him so he had no choice but to beat them up. He says he is as soft as wool.

Thomas L. Cory in the Healthscope magazine says by definition, a toxic relationship is one characterised by behaviours on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not infrequently physically damaging to their partner. He says a toxic relationship damages self-esteem and drains energy. A toxic relationship is not a safe place. It is characterised by self centredness, insecurity, dominance, control and we risk our very being by staying in such a relationship.

I am in a toxic relationship with Zanu PF and I know not what to do.

Curated Post from Zim Live: https://www.zimlive.com/2018/09/im-zimbabwe-and-im-in-an-abusive-relationship-with-zanu-pf/

#CurrentSituation: Students ‘Shutdown’ Nust in protest over strike

Developing Story | 2 minute read

Students barricaded the National University of Science and Technology on Monday morning in protest against the institution’s inability to resolve issues with lecturers who have been on strike for three weeks .

According to the Nust Student Representative Council (SRC), the protest dubbed #NustShutDown, was staged to compel the institution to resolve the deadlock with lecturers,  a situation that has resulted in the disruption of learning.

“Students have not been learning for about four weeks now and we have come to a situation where we have to do just about anything to get the attention of stakeholders at Nust,” said SRC President Pablo Chimusoro.

By  8 a.m, all entrance and exit points had been blocked and nobody was allowed on campus.

Administration staff were stranded at City Hall as their daily bus could not exit to shuttle them to work. Others were stranded in their vehicles along the Cecil Avenue entrance.

The shutdown is happening days after government announced the appointment of Prof Mqhele Dlodlo as substantive Vice Chancellor of the university.

Here is a timeline of key developments

  • 26 Feb 2018: Students shutdown Nust 

Students barricade university – all entrance/exit points blocked -as they mount pressure on institution to solve lecturers’ strike

  • 21 Feb 2018: Govt appoints Prof Mqhele Dlodlo as  substantive Vice Chancellor:

The lack of a proactive and substantive Vice-Chancellor was believed to be a contributing factor in the gross  mismanagement of funds by the institution’s executive, hence the appointment 

  • 16 Feb 2018: Students join strike

Students marched to the university’s administration offices protesting over the impasse.

  • 13 Feb 2018: Nust takes lecturers to the Labour Court

The university responded to the strike by contesting the legality of the industrial action.

  • 7 Feb 2018: Nust lecturers strike for the second time in the same academic year.

Nust lecturers downed tools, alleging mismanagement at the institution- splashing money on luxurious vehicles at the expense of students’ learning materials and equipment –  which they said was crippling the university’s operations. 

  • 29 Jan 2018: 2nd Semester of academic year commences.

Second semester commenced amidst high expectations given the new political dispensation in the country

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

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.