The national coordinator of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU), Mfundo Mlilo said they had already prepared a petition to be presented to President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara – the three principals in the global political agreement, which created the inclusive government. The petition is also copied to Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila, who chairs the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), South African President and SADC facilitator in the unity talks, Jacob Zuma and Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo.
“While we acknowledge the positive changes that the inclusive government has brought in the economic sector generally, we note with great concern that developments in the higher and tertiary education sector are yet to be noticed,” said Mlilo. “Education has been dollarised and the majority of students cannot afford to pay the exorbitant fees being charged by tertiary institutions. This situation has resulted in the high increase of college dropouts.”
Zimbabwe is said to have the best literacy rate in Africa.
The students said the demonstrations were meant to put pressure on the authorities to bring back Zimbabwe’s high education standards.
“Zimbabwe used to have one of the best education systems in the world but this has ceased to exist as a result of poor policies and laws applied by the then government of President Mugabe,” said Mlilo.
He said Monday’s protests are “meant to force the Government to put a stop to the continued victimization and arbitrary arrests of student activists by state apparatus, to force the Government to fully implement the outstanding issues, to force the Government to make education accessible and affordable to all”.
Among others, the petition will enlighten the authorities on how students “have continued to bear the brunt of the continued political impasse in the country and the never ending talks between the three political players”.
They will also call for a reduction of fees currently being charged at tertiary institutions, which have resulted in massive drop outs of students, while hundreds of other students have also been forced to defer their studies.