President Mugabe is my inspiration: youth activist

President Robert Mugabe is Tonderayi Kunyaye’s biggest inspiration! The 25-year-old has vowed to use Mugabe as a perfect example of what a good leader should NOT become.

Tonderayi Kunyaye: “Youths must resist political abuse.”
Tonderayi Kunyaye: “Youths must resist political abuse.”

In 2009, Kunyaye became the first “MDC student” to be expelled from the Presidential Scholarship Fund at South Africa’s Fort Hare University. A spurious treason charge was laid against him by Christopher Mushowe, one of the president’s closest allies.

As a student leader and social activist, Kunyaye had led a protest over the alleged sexual abuse of female students by the Zanu (PF) stalwart.

“I stood up against the violation of female students’ rights by Mushowe. Some female students were being forced to offer carpet favours in exchange for the scholarship and I protested against that,” he said.

Kunyaye’s letter of expulsion, also addressed to the university registrar, alleged that he had been broadcasting hate, malicious and defamatory propaganda through self-made music, postcards and speeches to other students in and outside the university. Mushowe claimed this had ‘elicited malicious controversy around the patron and sponsor of this programme (Mugabe).’

Kunyaye was ordered to surrender his study permit and return to Zimbabwe to ‘assist’ authorities there to substantiate claims ‘contained in tapes and reports’. Failure to do so would mean he (or his guarantors) had to reimburse what the government had paid for his education.

He did not return to Zimbabwe, for obvious reasons and 12 other students were expelled from Fort Hare for supporting the mainstream MDC.

“Because the protest was genuine and what I stood for was real, I did not regret my actions. I later got a scholarship to study at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands,” he said.

Now academically empowered, Kunyaye is the Executive Director at Water Dynamics and the founder of two NGOs – International Human Rights and Youth Vision Emancipation Organisation.

Key among his goals is the emancipation of the youth from the clutches of political abuse. He accuses Mugabe of using desperate, unemployed youngsters to further tighten his claws on power – brainwashing some into his torture machine, and hounding those who resist out of the country.

He tries to help by sourcing scholarships in SA and abroad, and running HIV/Aids, human rights and gender equity programmes. “If you develop a strong network with the relevant people, you will never go wrong. Youths should not be cowed by Mugabe as he is an old horse with nothing to deliver but empty promises and threats,” he said.

The Harare-born Kunyaye has a great dream for his motherland, one that is shared by many: “I wish to see a civilised Zimbabwe, devoid of tyranny. I urge youths to remain focused on the attainment of a democratic Zimbabwe, which is only a sniff away.”

Post published in: Africa News

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