Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) has strongly condemned the arrest of 11 student activists from Lupane University and Great Zimbabwe University for demonstrating against university officials over hikes of accommodation and tuition fees. The protests were ignited by the unbearable economic conditions as the cost of living continues to sky rocket beyond the reach for both parents and the students.
Speaking at a press conference today in Harare, ZINASU Spokesperson, Tatenda Mandondo labelled the arrest of the students as ‘arbitrary’ adding they were deprived of their constitutional right to demonstrate. He noted they have approached The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZHLR) for legal representation in the courts of law.
ZINASU made a plea to the government to intervene urgently to meet the needs and welfare of all students in different institutions of higher learning in the country. They called for the fees to be lowered as many students are failing to pay their fees.
“For other institutions such as Catholic University has increased their tuition fees from RTGS$950 to RTGS$1500 without consulting the parents and the students”, said Mandondo.
ZINASU also demanded accommodation fees to be affordable to every student and an improvement to the living conditions in university premises.
The students’ body also blamed government for neglecting the welfare of the students as students are suffering as a result of this neglect.
“Female students re failing to buy sanitary pads because of high cost of commodities. They are also indulging in prostitution and male are abusing drugs and some are committing suicide a because failure to fare for themselves as a result of the harsh economic conditions”, said Mandondo.
Apart from calling the government to intervene in the student’s welfare, ZINASU Secretary General, Ashleigh Pfunye blasted government for failing to address structural issues affecting graduates.
“The utterance by the Minister of Higher and tertiary education to scape useless degree is ill- advised as all degrees are very important but government is failing to open up industries for graduates to be employed,” said Pfunye.
ZINASU added President Mnangagwa must relinquish his powers as Chancellor for all Universities as this is politicising places which are meant for academic purposes thereby distorting the image and credibility of the institutions.
ZINASU Spokesperson said in two weeks time they are going to hold a peaceful demonstration to hand over the petition on students concerns.