This is despite claims that the students are on presidential scholarships which should come from President Mugabe’s personal resouces.
Although Finance Minister Tendai Biti has repeatedly claimed that government has stopped unnecessary spending, information sourced from his ministry shows that more money is expected to be disbursed to South African universities soon.
A former top aide of Mugabe and now Manicaland governor, Christopher Mushowe administers the presidential scholarship fund although the final decision to transfer the funds rests with the minister of finance.
According to documents seen by Radio VOP the money was transferred through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in South African Rands between February last year and January this year. The biggest beneficiary of the scholarship is Fort Hare University which gobbled up about 48 million South African rands in just a year.
Some of the colleges in South Africa which benefited from government’s free spending since last year are the universities of Venda, Johannesburg, Walter Sisulu, Rhodes, Limpopo, Cape Peninsula, Western Cape, Cape Town and Kwazulu – Natal.
On 10 January 2009, the following transfers were made from RBZ: Fort Hare ZAR 1 million, Kwazulu Natal ZAR 176 175 and Rhodes ZAR 300 000. On 10 June 2009 the following transfers were made: Cape Peninsula ZAR 3 073 877, Limpopo ZAR 240 186, Cape Town ZAR 83 040. On 15 September 2009 the following transfers were made: Fort Hare ZAR 10 million, Venda ZAR 3 million, Johannesburg ZAR 2 million and Walter Sisulu ZAR 2 million.
On 29 November 2009 more transfers were made to: Fort Hare ZAR 17 677 600, Venda ZAR 7 357 306, Johannesburg ZAR 550 690, Walter Sisulu ZAR 3 105 730. Only last month on January 25, more transfers were made and these are: Fort Hare ZAR 20 million, Rhodes ZAR 3,5million, Limpopo ZAR 300 000, Venda, ZAR 4 million, Cape Peninsula ZAR 2 million, Western Cape, ZAR 2 million and Johannesburg ZAR 4million.
While the criteria used to select students for scholarships remains a mystery it is well known that most of those who succeed are relatives or children of top government officials. Radio VOP has it on good authority that although Biti initially resisted authorizing the transfers he was arm twisted and eventually succumbed.
Zimbabwe has about 10 universities and 34 teachers’ colleges and polytechnics all of which are struggling to survive due to lack of funding.
Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) president Joshua Chinyere attacked the government for what he described as outrageous extravagance at a time when local universities were crying out for funding.
“This is shocking and it really shows that some people in government are not serious with education. We have thousands of brilliant students in the country, that are not politically connected but who could learn at local universities using the money they are wasting at South African colleges.
“Why don’t those students come back and learn in Zimbabwe, why is the government not directing the money to our universities. Right now our universities have no books, they have no water and electricity – why not use the money to buy generators and install boreholes at universities and colleges. Why not pay the lecturers so that they do not go away or they do not strike.
“It simply does not make sense. The student body will have to confront government on this.
“We are not saying people should not go and learn in South Africa – it’s their choice so they must pay for themselves. This is tax payers money which is being abused,” said Chinyere.