By Thandiwe Garusa
THE Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) has vowed to confront President Emmerson Mnangagwa if government does not reduce university fees as they also declared no local university is going to open without their demands being met.
This comes as state universities have increased fees to figures above $5 000.
Dozens of student activists under the militant representative group Thursday staged a demonstration at Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Amon Murwira’s offices at the New Government Complex in Harare.
They later handed over their petition to the minister who went on to stamp a copy as a way of confirming receipt of the letter.
The students were chanting and dancing while holding placards.
Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com after dumping their placards at the offices’ entrance, ZINASU president Takudzwa Ngadziore said if government was able to channel scarce public funds to rescue struggling national transporter, Zupco and mealie meal subsidies, it followed it was able to do the same with university learning among poor locals.
“We are here to make it very clear to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education that the students are coming for him, he has declared war upon the students and they (students) will react.
“Where there is injustice, the students will stand for themselves and what we want is education for all because it is not only for the privileged according to section 75 of our own 2013 amendment in the constitution,” said Ngadziore.
He added, “Our parents who are civil servants, vendors in the streets, are getting an average of $1 023 and pegging fees at $5 000 is just nonsense and the petition has been delivered to the minister.
“If they do nothing in the coming week, we are coming to the chancellor of all state universities across Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“ZINASU is very clear that we are never going back, all polytechnic colleges and universities are going to respond because fees must fall.
“The minister said they have distributed 6 million to each and every institution, but we still see the $5 000 demarcation is still above the limit we can get as students.”
The students questioned how it was possible for government to “pay our parents peanuts that are not even salted and suddenly demand them by way of miracle pay fees in the form of pizza”.
“…It is a serious show of the absence of empathy and concern on your (minister) part.
“We do not accept to be treated as customers in order to access education in our motherland, as long as your government cannot pay our parents a living wage, we surely will not be able to afford paying exorbitant fees and we demand that you call your lieutenants to order,” he said.
The petition also noted that Murwira had previously announced that no university must charge above $5 000 and poly technics not more than $1 300 but this was not followed by any of the institutions.
Minister Murwira could not readily be reached for comment.
But in his recent comments over fee hikes, Minister Murwira said the increases should be to ensure institutions remained operational but should not be increased to anything above $5 000.