Top lawyer stops university from demanding US$ fees from struggling students 

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By Staff Reporter 

Human rights lawyer, Advocate Martin Mureri, has successfully launched a court challenge stopping Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) in Masvingo from demanding part of tuition fees in US dollars.

The already hard-pressed learners will, from now onwards, be allowed to pay fees exclusively in local currency. The effective date is April 2, 2024.

Previously, GZU was asking learners to pay 50% of their fees in US$, and the remainder in RTGS currency.

Fees at GZU range from US$550 to US$900 and following the latest development these fees will be paid in RTGS at the prevailing inter-bank rate.

Mureri, who is also Masvingo Urban Member of Parliament (MP), on March 25, 2024, received instructions from his clients, Darlington Matola and Shadreck Chidyamakoni demanding that GZU immediately stop demanding fees in US$ and extend the 2024 students registration deadline.

The appellants argued that charging fees in US$ at GZU was illegal and violated students’ rights and that the varsity must cease the malpractice within 48 hours, or it would be taken to court.

Matola and Chidyamakuni, two students represented in the case, cited Section 7(1) of the Exchange Control (Exclusive use of the Zimbabwean Dollar for Domestic Transactions) Regulations 2019 S.I 212 of 2019, as amended by section 2 of the Exchange Control (Exclusive use of the Zimbabwean Dollar for Domestic Transactions) Regulations 2020 (No.3) S.I 185 of 2020. This section allowed for products and services charged in USD to be paid for at the prevailing interbank rate.

However, GZU failed to respond within the given 48-hour timeframe, prompting  Mureri to seek an injunction from the High Court to prevent GZU from charging students in US$.

In response, GZU, through its lawyer, requested that Mureri withdraw the case from the court, as authorities had decided to comply with the students’ request.

In a major climbdown, GZU registrar, Dr. Gwatidzo, posted an announcement on the university’s website stating that, effective immediately, all GZU students would be required to pay their fees in Zimbabwean RTGS currency and other accepted forms of payment.

Therefore, students will not be compelled to pay in US$. Additionally, the university extended the deadline for registration and fees payment to April 19, 2024, as per the students’ request.

Learners argued the “illegality” would have prevented them from attending lectures, and resulted in missing end-of-semester examinations, and ultimately deferring their studies.

They expressed concern that they were being forced to either comply with the university’s illegal demands or forfeit their education altogether.