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Students reflections on Independence Day - Zimbabwe at 30
Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) (Chinyere)
April 16, 2010

"Just what happened to the Jewel of Africa"

The Zimbabwe National Students Union joins the rest of the nation in commemorating 30 years of the country's independence. The commemorations come against a backdrop of continued student victimization, unaffordability of education and a general decay in the quality of education offered to students. The ideals of the liberation struggle and the dream for a non racial society in which people are equal before the law, the dream of a new prosperous society has been savagely destroyed by ZANU PF vampire elites and its apple polishers.

This is the second independence anniversary to be commemorated under the banner of the Inclusive Government which was formed on 11 February 2008. The principals of the hybrid Government are today locked in a bitter and unprincipled fight for power with no progress and development having been registered to date. Yet even with the stalled talks our President R. Mugabe has no shame in announcing that ZANU PF is preparing for elections with or without a constitution. What a negation of the liberation struggle!

The liberation struggle was fought against white supremacy, minority rule, and injustices by the white colonial settlers, victimization, political polarization but little has changed since Zimbabwe gained independence. Today, 30 years into independence, the liberator has turned into the oppressor employing the same tactics used during the colonial period.

Students in tertiary institutions are among the majority of the disgruntled. On Independence Day in 1980, President Robert Mugabe promised free education for all at primary level and affordable quality education but instead of the country moving towards attaining the above, the country is in unprecedented regression and determined to obliterate what little hope and aspirations present at independence. This is all because of selfish and parochial political egos and an unbridled sense of entitlement of a select group of politicians, the misguided notion that the war was only fought by ZANU PF.

Mismanagement, corruption, dictatorship tendencies, promotion of anarchy and disrespect of the rule of law turned Zimbabwe into sorrowful state. Education has become inaccessible to the majority of students with the year 2009 reporting the largest student drop our rate of 31 % since independence. Tuition fees in State institutions are ranging from a steep USD200- USD800 when civil service personnel earn a paltry USD 150.

Independence was supposed to create conditions conducive for independent and critical intellectual growth at institutions of higher learning, which in turn lead to developments in research and of critical human resources. Instead, the current crop of leaders who are ironically British and American schooled have turned colleges into war zones with student liberties as their number one targets. ZANU PF views students as political opposition failing to realize that the student's quest for such liberties is founded in the knowledge and understanding that the war of liberation was waged for such freedom. Today institutions of learning have been turned into torture chambers.

Since 2000, more than 400 students have been issued with indefinite suspensions and 50 with life expulsions for demonstrating against unaffordability of education in Zimbabwe. These figures are astonishingly larger than the number of students who were either suspended or expelled during the colonial era. Many prominent politicians and businessmen of today attained their education during the colonial era, the likes of the President Robert Mugabe himself and many of his allies for example the Minister of Higher education, Dr Stan Mudenge who are now busy depriving the students of today the right to attain affordable and quality education. They attained their education through grants and loans from the Government which made it easy for them to continue pursuing their education. Some students are now engaging in illicit activities to raise the fees thus exposing them to deadly diseases for example HIV/AIDS. Students are being forced to apply from the restrictive cadetship programme which contains clauses that are tantamount to slavery.

The Government has been busy investing in organs like the defense against imaginary enemies neglecting the education sector as if Zimbabwe is in war. The Government of Robert Mugabe has been busy dishing scholarships to pro ZANU Pf students to study abroad while local students suffer in an environment fraught with serious brain drain. In 2009 alone, the Government used USD12million to fund the presidential Scholarship, a huge amount that could have been used to resuscitate the local education sector.

Our independence message to those in Government is unequivocal and loud. We demand academic freedoms and fundamental rights today. We draw our inspiration from Leopold Takawira, Joshua Nkomo, Josiah Magama Tongogara, Sally Mugabe, Herbert Chitepo, Jason Moyo, Alfred Nikita Mangena and all luminaries of the struggle for independence. 18 April reminds us of our duty to protect the revolution from the current selfishness and greed of our former liberators who hide behind air conditioned offices looting diamonds from Chiadza fields.

"Defending Academic freedoms in Zimbabwe"

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