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Statement on the humanitarian disaster at UZ following eviction of students
Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU)
July 10, 2007

The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) expresses its outrage and serious concern at the humanitarian disaster ensuing at the University of Zimbabwe, where 5000 students were evicted from halls of residence late in the afternoon of 9 July resulting in thousands of them sleeping in the open.

The mass eviction, reminiscent of Operation Murambatsvina of 2005, was brutally carried out by armed riot police at 2:30 pm following a notice by the University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor Professor Levy Nyagura evicting students with immediate effect. In his notice sent out at 2 pm on 9 July, Professor Nyagura said that students had destroyed University property on the 3rd and 7th of July 2007 and that all students should leave halls of residents by 3pm of that day.

At 2:30 hrs, armed riot had started violently evicting students from halls of residents. In the process hundreds of students were beaten and injured by the riot police. Two students were critically injured and received medical attention at the Avenues clinic last night. Apart from stating that the halls of residents have been closed, Professor Nyagura did not give any indication of what would happen to the 5000 students evicted from halls of residents. Many students staying on campus are not residents of Harare and many come from far way cities including Bulawayo, Mutare, and Masvingo among other places. The Vice Chancellor stated that normal academic business would continue. This is despite 5000 students still stranded in the open.

ZINASU managed to organize accommodation for a few students at churches in the vicinity of Mount Pleasant area. ZINASU has further instituted an urgent High Court application seeking to compel the University of Zimbabwe to readmit students back to the halls of residents. ZINASU further notes that the destruction of property at the University of Zimbabwe on the 3 rd and 7th of July was as a result of the invasion of the University campus by riot police who randomly fired teargas canisters and beat up students indiscriminately. Students who were in halls of residents had to break windows to escape the beating and tear smoke. It should be noted that the 3 rd and 7th of July peaceful demonstrations by students were legitimate expressions of the ever increasing university fees, especially following another demand from administration that students top up fees by 1 million Zimbabwe dollars. The demand for the top up was, according to the University administration, caused by the extension of the semester owing to a strike by lecturers which resulted in lectures being suspended. In this regard, student reject to pay for an issue which is not of their making, that is the strike by lecturers.

The events of 9 July which have resulted in a serious humanitarian disaster are a further indication of the deteriorating situation at the University of Zimbabwe and further testimony to the lack of care and concern on the welfare of students by the administration. ZINASU expresses its serious concern and condemnation that the use of brutal force and impulse judgment is becoming 'policy' and practice at the University of Zimbabwe. ZINASU notes that students are now politically targeted by the administration which fears that the general collapse of the economy and a political situation characterized by fear, intimidation, harassment and torture might be resisted by University students. ZINASU notes that students affairs are now seen in political terms by security agents who are prepared to beat, shoot and kill in defense of corruption, autocracy and mismanagement prevailing, not only at the UZ but countrywide.

ZINASU condemns in the strongest terms the ensuing developments which are part of the administration's war of attrition to silence students and brow beat us into submission. ZINASU is concerned that the UZ administration is increasingly being run, not by academics but by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and riot police. This is sad for an institution which is purportedly a learning hub. ZINASU, therefore, calls on the local community to offer any support they can to students and also call upon the UZ administration to reopen the halls of residents so that students can attend lectures normally. ZINASU reiterates that it will not stop speaking out and organizing any form of free expression to bring attention to concerns of students on their general welfare.

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