Tag Archives: SRC

Hacking forces MSU to stop SRC polls

BY BRENNA MATENDERE | Newsday 
One minute read

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

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

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

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

MSU spokesperson, Mirirai Mawere, confirmed the developments.

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

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

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

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

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NUST SRC, failed students?

Varsity Magazine
2 minute read. 

As the current SRC board for 2017/2018 term is about to end, it would be wrong if we look past their endeavors without saying a word. Last year as they were campaigning for their various posts, they made promises to the students and some of the presidential candidates went on further to give us their manifestos and what they were intending to do after being elected into the office. The question that now remains is, were the promises fulfilled?

Pablo
NUST SRC Outgoing President Pablo Tinashe Chimusoro

If we can answer, then we will know the very reason why we elect prospective candidates into power. The current board which was led by President Pablo T Chimusoro and the vice President Natasha Aliki who were both leaders of NSC and ZICOSU respectively did manage to transform the livelihoods of the Nust community.

I will just mention a few achievements that were done by the current SRC board so that we know what we will be expecting from the next Council. Sockets where replaced in one of the small lecture theatres, a new bus was bought and it happens to be that the bus is for the students only but the situation is totally different on the ground because currently the lecturers are the ones using it ,Two flat screen TV were bought and are placed safe at the students residents ,there were also additional Wi-Fi routers installed in students residence. The outcry of attachment fees was also facilitated by the SRC and the issue was brought before the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education ,Science and Technology Development Prof Murwira although the policy has not be fully implemented.

Entertainment wise ,they did what they had to do to make life of a normal UBA and USA enjoyable by bringing Stunner ,Seh Calahs , the Gafa of our time also known as Winky D and managed to host a successful Miss Nust 2018 event.

However, some may not agree with me that all of the promises that the SRC made were fulfilled. Is it they couldn’t fulfil because they were not intending on fulfilling at all or the Nust administration made it hard for them to do what they were supposed to do. In my own opinion which I am entitled to, I believe all of these facts should be put into consideration and I will give an example.

When we opened our second semester end of January 2018, the lecturers went on strike which stretched to three weeks and the SRC took ages to organise a demonstration. Why they did that? There is no reasonable explanation

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…

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.