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  • Strikes and Protests 2007/8 - Students

  • Tension rises at Bindura University
    Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU)
    March 19, 2007

    Having been made to pay initial accommodation fees of $40 000 and tuition and registration fees of between $45 000 and $60 000 by 5 March 2007, students at Bindura University have been slapped with a demand of an additional $85 000 top-up fees broken down as follows:

    • $5 000 Registration
    • $30 000 Medical Aid
    • $50 000 Accommodation

    At the fees review meeting that was held in February 2007, it was agreed that each student must have compulsory medical aid, either from CIMAS or the ineffective Premier Service Medical Aid Society offered by the university (and not recognised by local hospitals). However, the administration is forcing all students to pay the $30 000 including those who are affiliated to CIMAS. This has enraged the student body with others claiming that their rights are being violated as they are of the traditional religion and others saying they belong to a certain Apostolic Faith sect and thus do not believe in medication. Failure to pay the registration and medical aid fees has resulted in students not being allowed to register for the semester.

    The additional $50 000 for accommodation fees has further increased students' anger. Presently, a room that is meant to be occupied by two individuals has been made to cater for four people with two students on each single bed, (having each paid the initial $40 000) a condition that has proved to be unhygienic. This $50 000, it is said, is to cater for cleaning chemicals- $20 000 and an unbelievable $30 000 reserved for tissues provided by the contracted housekeeping company, Mirilove. It is the poor service delivery by this company that has made the $30 000 be an incredible amount as last semester students only got three rolls of tissue paper, and now a packet of four rolls costs around $10 000 making the $30 000 for the poor quality tissues an unfair demand.

    The meal prices have also become a cause for concern as the high prices being charged are out of reach of the majority of students. The dining hall has virtually been turned into a police canteen as it is only catering for the police students whose meals are prepaid by their employer at the beginning of each semester. Although the meal prices have not yet been officially set, the provisional prices of at least $3 500 for a sub standard meal of sadza and beef is beyond the reach of students whose majority are sons and daughters of peasant farmers (whose harvests, if any, are yet to be realised); nurses, doctors and lecturers who are currently on strike due to paltry salaries.

    At the moment, only half of the students have returned since the university reopened on the 11th of March as they are struggling to raise the initial $85 000 to $100 000 to complete a budget of around $510 000 for just one month broken down as:

    • $210 000 Meals
    • $100 000 Initial fees
    • $100 000 Stationery
    • $100 000 General upkeep

    Which will go up to more than $600 000 in the event that the top-up is effected. And this burden for a parent who earns on average a mere $250 000 salary per month!

    It is reported that most students who have not yet returned to school are engaged in cross border trading in South Africa, Zambia and Botswana; while others are often seen at Ximex Mall and Road port dealing in cell phones and forex respectively. Meanwhile, the students back at school have turned their rooms into mini tuck shops selling eggs, maputi, bananas, tomatoes, sweets, matemba, vegetables, exercise books, Soya mince, ball point pens etc. Others are in the trade of mending shoes and repairing cell phones. All this is evidently being done in an effort top raise funds for their upkeep and to raise enough school fees. Again, prostitution has also started taking root among female students so as to gat extra cash for survival.

    In the wake of the university authorities' demands and threats of being booted out of the halls of residence and being disallowed to register, students have openly declined to give in and have also threatened to boycott lecturers in defiance of these orders, and the boycott being also in solidarity with all other institutions in the 'Save our Education; Save our Future campaign.'

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