By Itai Muzondo
MASVINGO, October 27, 2015 – Despite being one of the fastest growing academic institutions in Zimbabwe, Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) is still to construct its own campus to be situated near the historic Great Zimbabwe monuments. The major challenge, according to the institution’s council chairperson Simplicius Chihambakwe is lack of financial resources.
Addressing hundreds of people gathered at the university’s ninth graduation ceremony last Friday where the Chancellor of all State Universities, President Robert Mugabe capped 1883 students, Chihambakwe, a prominent lawyer who chaired the Gukurahundi commission of inquiry into disturbances in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces disclosed that GZU needs $300 million to construct its own main campus.
“Much as we have been successful and excelling in a lot of work, we are still facing challenges of fundraising for the construction of our campus which requires lots of money to be completed,” said Chihambakwe.
“We have however used locally available funds to acquire properties in town to serve as teaching and learning centers with the latest purchasing being the building next to our school of gender and is already fully functional,” Chihambakwe said.
“The town (Masvingo) might have to change its name to GZU,” jokingly added Chihambakwe in reference to how the university has acquired a better half of the buildings in the oldest city once called Fort Victoria founded when Cecil John Rhodes’s Pioneer Column made a stop there on its way to then Fort Salisbury, now Harare during colonisation.
The University’s Vice – Chancellor Professor Rungano Zvobgo highlighted moves meant to eliminate the current challenge stating that the University has invested heavily in resource mobilization projects that should help the institution fundraise for its mega project.
“We have not been relaxed and waiting for the situation to either worsen or change itself. This year has therefore been targeted towards resource mobilization which has seen the University purchase a brick molding machine which produces 7 000 bricks per day ultimately totaling 140 000 bricks per month. These bricks are benefiting the community, members of staff and at the same time being spared for the university’s infrastructural development programmes.
“We have also signed a contract with a local bank to construct hostels for our students presently learning from our Mucheke Campus,” Zvobgo said.
Parents interviewed by Radio VOP at the graduation ceremony however said GZU should quickly look into constructing its own campus to reduce expenses incurred whilst trying to accommodate the increasing number of students.
“The university should swiftly act towards the construction of their home. This will reduce expenses incurred in trying to accommodate the ever increasing number of students at this institution. As parents with children graduating today, we were financially strained because of this challenge.
“I recall that at times my child had to move from Mucheke to town and later on to the industrial sites which forced me to folk out extra money for his transport. If the university had its own campus, I do not believe this would have been the situation,” said a concerned parent, Evans Maregere.
“The University is doing well and I believe it has some of the highest standards in Zimbabwe at the moment. The institution should however thrive to build its own campus than depend on small buy-offs and rented properties. That really tarnishes the image of all the good work they are doing in the community,” added another parent, Florence Kwangwa.
“We want a campus. Going to Masvingo Teachers College where the substantive main campus is operating from is boring because offices often shift. We end up confused and getting tired. Giving directions to first year students leaves them totally confused because of distances covered.” added another student, Ephraim Mthombeni.
Lecturers disclosed that the challenge has seen them encounter a lot of problems ranging from health to social activities in their day to day lives.
“We are operating from our own homes since we do not have offices. Students now do not know how to interact with us since coming to our homes is problemmatic. The only office available to us would be our vehicles,” said one lecturer, Davison Mugodzwa.
Students have since resorted to a group approach when they need attention from lectureres since they cannot attend to them individually.
GZU has current enrolment of 13 400 students