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University of Zimbabwe medical student leader victimised
Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ)
October 12, 2007

The Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe (SCMZ) is deeply concerned by the unjustified victimization of students by university authorities. Fortune Nyamande a fourth year medical student at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) has been struck off the medical school academic register under unclear circumstances. In a letter dated 20 September 2007, but delivered to him on the 11th of October, the deputy academic registrar Mrs N Takawira notified him that the medical school had removed him from its academic register for failing to attend examinations. This is despite the fact that Fortune was attending his brothers' funeral who tragically passed away in South Africa just a week before the examinations. What is more appalling is that he notified the administration about the funeral before the exams with supporting documents which included repatriation papers, South African Police reports, burial order, death certificates and documents from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The medical school administration through Mr S Chitiyo (registrar) gave him permission to attend the funeral, but surprisingly, they informed him afterwards that he was no longer going to write his fourth year exams but had to reapply for readmission to the very same authorities. Under normal circumstances he should have sat for special supplementary examinations at first attempt.

As SCMZ we strongly believe that Fortune is being victimized for his active involvement in student and civic issues. He is the founding Chairperson of the UZ medical school SCMZ branch which has been carrying out community outreach programmes vis-a-vis the provision of free health education and services to disadvantaged communities. He is currently the Student coordinator for the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) and has successfully coordinated short courses and workshops on health and human rights for medical students and junior doctors through ZADHR and the Hospital Doctors Association. He has also participated in various international forums on health and human rights were he openly castigated the government's inadequate response to the health sector crisis in Zimbabwe. He has been advocating for the incorporation of human rights issues in the undergraduate medical curriculum as a way of equipping future medical personnel with skills and knowledge on handling victims of human rights abuses such as torture patients, refugees and victims of organized violence. He is the past president of the Zimbabwe Medical Students Association where he worked with the Student Representative Council in championing students' rights.

As a students ecumenical body, we will continue praying for Fortune during these trying times as he is trying to cope with both the pressures of bereavement and the abrupt disruption of his studies. We would want to encourage him and other victims to refuse to be discouraged but to declare hope in the lord, for life will change for the better because God holds the future of Zimbabwe in his almighty hands. We also urge the university authorities to reconsider their destructive decision which is also untimely since the country is battling to retain the few remaining medical personnel.

"I even I, am the one who comforts you, says God. Why are you afraid of mere humans, who wither like grass and disappear" Isaiah 52 v 12

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