Biti wades into UZ tuition fees standoff, says new rates are ‘unjustified, irrational and unlawful’

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By Reason Razao

FORMER Finance minister, Tendai Biti has poured scorn over the latest round of tuition fees hikes at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), describing them as “unjustified, irrational and unlawful.”

He said given the prevailing hardships owing to the deplorable state of the economy, UZ authorities did not need to further burden learners, parents and guardians with ridiculous fees.

UZ increased fees by 700 percent from ZWL $50 00 to half a million Zimbabwean dollars.

This means students will be forced to fork out over US$1 000 in an economy where most are still earning in the local currency.

The Harare East lawmaker and opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) stalwart weighed in on the fees stand-off, saying it was ridiculous provided that UZ had received a ZWL $4, 9bn subsidy from the supplementary

“The massive tuition fee increases of over 700% at the University of Zimbabwe are irrational and unlawful. Asking parents to fork out US$1 300 per semester for tuition alone is ridiculous.

“Moreso when UZ received an additional $4, 5 billion in the Supplementary Budget to take total to $7, 9 bn,” Biti said.

“Education is a basic human right protected by section 88 of the Constitution. It is at the core of right to human dignity.

“Zanu PF’s actions at UZ are a blatant assault on right to education. They betray the absence of an ideology or inner morality guiding regime. Shocking bankruptcy,” said Biti.

Government spokesperson, Nick Mangwana, through his Twitter space, said complaints over fees hike were unjustified and students should resort to schemes such as payment plans.

“There are students whose domestic situations are such that they may struggle to pay fees,” Mangwana said.

“Universities run different support schemes to assist these students meet their fees. Some unis like the UZ have these schemes; 1- Work Study Programmes, 2- Fees Payment Plans and 3- Student Loans.”

UZ students staged a flash demonstration Monday to press authorities to review fees downwards, with the Students Representative Council (SRC) president Allan Chipoyi urging all learners to stay at home, while hinting on an impending court challenge over the increases.