Students suffer as political oppression continues

students_zimbabweA cocktail of court cases and disciplinary hearings have ensured that students are always on the back foot as college authorities try to flush out those they deem undesirable, writes the STUDENT SOLIDARITY TRUST.

HARARE – Upon Zimbabwes attainment of independence in 1980, infrastructure and facilities for students were limited. The nation rapidly increased the number of schools, universities and vocational training institutions. This was remarkable and commendable for a government whose primary aim was education for all.

As student populations grew and more Zimbabweans got educated, the country was looking to a bright and prosperous future. However, the story of Zimbabwes students took a mind-boggling turn with the appointment of poor custodians of our colleges and universities. This has been atrocious and has sold students short. Those given the responsibility have long relinquished it, opting to be Zanu (PF) functionaries and favouring that partys oppressive tactics.

On July 9 2007, the vice chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe, Professor Levi Nyagura ordered the closure of halls of residence in 30 minutes – rendering the estimated 4500 student population homeless. This was two weeks before crucial end of year examinations and during a pretty cold winter spell.

The official reason was that there had been demonstrations. But instead of looking for and punishing the culprits, unsuspecting residents suffered collateral damage as the professor sort to exorcise the University of any Living Soul. Four years down the line, the halls of residents are still closed amid all sorts of excuses ranging from the unavailability of water to renovations.

In a politically polarized country such a Zimbabwe, a concentration of students at the oldest university is the last thing authorities would want to deal with. In Nyagura, a willing servant has been found to ensure that students continue to suffer, living in squalid conditions and dropping out of college due to lack of accommodation. This has seen unscrupulous landlords mushrooming and charging exorbitant tariffs for substandard accommodation. Infrastructure is seriously run down and some of the facilities, such the students union building, are no longer functional.

Wanton persecution of students continues – with arrests, suspensions and expulsions being part of the administrators toolkit to frustrate student activism and stifle dissent. A cocktail of court cases and disciplinary hearings have ensured that students are always on the back foot as college authorities try to flush out those they deem undesirable.

Students continue to long for the day when professionalism returns to colleges. Indeed, the current crop of college administrators continue to do Zanu (PF)s bidding at the expense of students nationwide. They are condemning the country to a future where all educated minds will have to be imported. The culture of getting instructions from a political office must cease in order to enable full recovery of the education system.

Post published in: Opinions

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