Politics rock UZ SRC election; police deny allegations they attacked students

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By Mary Taruvinga

HARARE: Police officers reportedly descended on the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) campus Friday and randomly attacked students after the conclusion of Student Representative Council (SRC) elections.

The rival student camps, which are also aligned the country’s main political parties, are blaming each other for the clashes.

The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) claims its rival Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union (ZICOSU) mobilised the police, including their thugs.

ZICOSU has also levelled the same allegations against ZINASU whose candidate, Allan Chipoyi, won presidential ballot by 2,400 votes against Darlington Chiwa of the rival group.

Police however, denied attacking students.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police wishes to set the record straight to the public that no interference was done by the police during the University of Zimbabwe Student Representative Council elections held on 01st July 2022,” said ZRP national spokesman Paul Nyathi.

“The Police was called in after some missiles had been thrown in the room where votes were being counted and validated, resulting in windows being damaged at the building.

“It is on record that the Zimbabwe Republic Police has received complainants from both ZINASU and ZICOSU members on the violence which took place after the students had queried the delay in the announcement of results. The Police is investigating the case.

Nyathi said it is wrong for politicians to claim that the police beat up and stopped members of ZINASU from celebrating victory or their member being elected into the University of Zimbabwe Student Representative Council’s structures as President.

“Politicians are reminded to stay in their spaces and not involve the police in issues which have nothing to do with policing.”

SRC elections at the country’s oldest university have, over the years, been marred by violence as the rival camps accuse each other of rigging and disrupting the electoral process.

Chipoyi, the incoming UZ students leader, said the latest election process was not easy from the start.

“It is common cause that the school administration is Zanu PF and they have tried everything possible to block me from winning,” he said.

Chipoyi claimed he was initially told that he could not contest the elections because he has pending court cases.

“But I do not have any conviction and never had any disciplinary hearing as outlined in our Constitution,” he said.

“There was nothing to justify my disqualification and they had to allow me.”

Chipoyi said the rival ZICOSU camp had mobilised the police to block them from celebrating their victory.

Police officers reportedly attacked students, injuring outgoing ZINASU president Benon Ncube and Innocent Sibanda, the spokesperson.

“It is funny when a neighbour cries out louder than the family of the bereaved,” said Chipoyi.

“They knew we had won and they mobilised the police to block our celebrations.”

For his part ZICOSU president, Pijiwest Nhamburo, said the police ruthlessly attacked his team, leaving them badly injured adding that a report was filed at Avondale police station.

“The election results were yet to be announced and we had received information to the effect that we had been defeated,” he said.

“I knew there could be violence so I told my team to accept the result so I took them away from the venue. While we were in the midst of discussing the outcome, the police arrived and started assaulting us without mentioning the reason behind the attack.

“We are seeking clarity on the reason of the assault because there was no violence at all, the election was done peacefully.”

Nhamburo said a docket has since been opened against the unknown officers and Avondale police is currently seized with the matter.

The police spokesperson, Paul Nyathi said they were not called in to attack ZINASU.