Students ‘tense’ as fee hikes bite(01-02-07)

HARARE - The Zimbabwe National Students' Union (ZINASU) said this week it was mobilising members to launch protests "very soon" against the hike in tertiary education fees and the continued victimisation of students by the government because of their political affiliation.
Washington Katema, nat

ional president of ZINASU, the umbrella union for Zimbabwean students, said a meeting held by the movement recently in Bulawayo had overwhelmingly approved a resolution backing the protests, dubbed the Save Our Education, Save Our Future campaign.
ZINASU’s decision comes in the wake of the government’s decision to ban college meetings and introduce a series of hikes in fees and levies. The fiery student leader said his constituents believed the measures were meant to punish some members for their declared support for the labour-backed Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The party enjoys a large following among students at colleges, where it has established branches.
Katema said: “The country is on fire. How can students pay more than Z$700,000 in tuition and accommodation fees in state owned universities and colleges when most of the students are sons and daughters of poor peasants and civil servants who are also living way below the poverty datum line? Students, like all other citizens of Zimbabwe, have endured enough pain and the endurance bowl is now spilling over.”
He said efforts by the students’ movement to have their payouts reviewed this year had been rejected by the government, and instead some additional levies had been introduced. Katema said the government had gone further to ban students from holding meetings at their colleges while in some institutions students were no longer allowed to stay in the institutions because these were now considered MDC bases.
He cited the example of the Harare Polytechic College, where several students’ residential flats were kept locked while students were forced to find their own accommodation.
The Zimbabwean heard that anti-riot police were this week closely monitoring students at Belvedere Teachers’ College in Harare and in Masvingo Teachers’ College where the mood among students was reported to be tense ahead of the protests.
ZINASU has a membership of more than 50,000 students in about 40 of the country’s institutions of high learning.

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