By Mary Taruvinga
ZIMBABWE Ezekiel Guti University (ZEGU) has come under fire for demanding immediate payment of outstanding fees from students as businesses have suspended operations to allow the country to deal with a life-threatening coronavirus crisis.
Disgruntled parents said it was even more baffling for a Christian based institution to display apparent lack of humanity during a time of intense suffering.
They attacked the university for giving them more to stress over when they were already dealing with the pressures of losing livelihoods during the lockdown period.
“Everyone in the world is currently preoccupied with the COVID-19 epidemic, meaning that every part of our lives is disrupted. But these people, because they put money ahead of everything else, choose to turn a deaf ear to the plight of parents, who are already burdened,” said one parent who preferred to remain anonymous.
“Our children went to school only 2 weeks, and according to them, they did not have any lectures for the 2 weeks. We were made to pay 60% of the fees for our children to register and we did.
“The remaining 40% was supposed to be paid by 31 March, or it will attract an interest of 25%.
“Students were sent home on 24 March, but the college still expected parents to meet the 31 March deadline for fees payments, and they sent a letter to that effect. And true to their word, they effected the 25% interest on fee balances, failing to consider what we are faced with.”
In its letter, dated April 2 2020, the university said, “Following earlier communication that 60 percent of fees be paid upon registration and the balance be cleared by 31 March 2020, you are hereby informed that the outstanding fees should be cleared by April 7 2020.”
But the parents argue that the institution should take into account that they had to meet unexpected costs of transporting children from schools following the declaration of the ongoing lockdown.
“For the majority of parents, our means of livelihood was disrupted, and would be disrupted for an unknown time. We are faced with a global problem, a threat to lives and we don’t know when we will be safe again and we need every cent we have.”
They also complained that the fees included costs for electricity, water, Wifi, tuition but the students will not be able to use that as they are locked down in their homes.
ZEGU authorities are being accused of not answering calls by parents who need to clarify these things.
The schools were shut on March 19 following confirmation of the first coronavirus infection in the country.
The virus has infected nine people so far and claimed the life of a journalist, Zororo Makamba.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the opening date for the second term will be announced once the threat of the virus has regressed.