The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) has challenged government to look into issues of students’ affairs or brace for a year of students protests in the coming year.
Speaking at a press conference to announce the new national executive, incoming President, Alister Pfunye, told journalists that the team was working on creating solidarity networks that would enable the progressive betterment of students’ lives across the country.
“We will put government to task. We are ready to pursue government so that we get our academic freedoms and exercise our rights as students. As the new leadership, we will lobby and engage the ministry of education and the ministry of Finance to support and put students at the forefront,” said Pfunye.
The new executive also decried the failure by government to consider students in the 2016 budget by allocating funds to improve the infrastructure and accommodation at tertiary institutions. The team said it is contemplating to push for a review of the budget by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa.
The team also said the issue of accommodation and general students’ poverty has led to a rise of sexually transmitted diseases across higher learning institutions in the country.
“We are also worried about the government’s silence on the welfare of students away from home who have resorted to engaging in sexual relations with sugar daddies (elder people) and miners who are in areas close to institutions such as Great Zimbabwe University and Midlands State University. Our recent statistics are at 6,000 for students with STIs at different institutions all over the country,” said Makomborero Haruziviishe, the new secretary General.
Despite the failure by the previous leaderships to engage the ministry of higher and tertiary education, the new leadership promised to continuously push until answers come from the government.
“We will continue to push even if they keep quiet, we will let the students speak. If they don’t listen to us, the power is in the students that elected us, that which they will desire we do to get the attention of the government, we will do,” Pfunye said.
The new leadership denounced allegations of being associated with any political party emphasizing on the fact that they are a strictly non partisan movement but a student movement pioneering the interests of all Zimbabwean tertiary students.
“I want to emphasise that we are not pushing interests of any political party, we are a student’s union with the interests of students at heart,” spokesperson Togarepi Mhetu said.
On the same note, the new president dismissed the allegations as unfounded and baseless charging that ZINASU is not aligned to any political party because the struggles faced by students are universal and they do not care whose political party card you carry.
The outgoing president, Gilbert Mtubuki, challenged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and President Mugabe to attend their elections in the future so that they can see that democracy is still alive and young people are ready to inspire government to also follow democratic tendencies.
“I sincerely wish that our senior politicians could learn from us the youth, we had our congress from 6-9 December 2015 and our elections were fair and credible as students freely expressed their democratic right and voted for a new leadership of their choice. There was no Nikuv, no rigging, the elections were free and fair.”
The leadership which vowed to challenge the privatization of tertiary education by government while demonizing students and subjecting them to uncouth conditions is led by Alistar Pfunye of Midlands State University and Precious Manyoka of Bondolfi Teachers College (BTC) as the vice president.
Makomborero Haruzivishe of University of Zimbabwe (UZ) is the Secretary General while Wilfred Chadzima of Masvingo Teachers College (MTC) is the board’s Treasurer General. Togarepi Mhetu of MSU is the spokesperson and the Gender Secretary is UZ’s Caroline Ganti.
Other members of the national excutive council are Thamsanqa Ndlovu of the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) ,Mellisa Museka of (BTC) and Privilege Gandira of the Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) who is the Secretary for Legal Affairs.