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  • Zanu PF 2013 election victory - what now for students
    Students Solidarity Trust
    August 08, 2013


    There are three political parties whose manifestos are worth an analysis, mainly because they have been part of the GNU; Zanu-PF and the two MDCs one led by Tsvangirai and another by Professor Ncube. The good thing is that all the three parties managed to put up election manifestos although some had all the signs of a hasty compilation including typographical mistakes, amateur writing, proof reading oversights and copy and paste manifestations. Notwithstanding these errors all the manifestos had enough flesh to enable an analysis with regards to two aspects in relation to the student community and education at large. The first aspect being to what the student community and the education sector has lost in terms of the promises contained in the MDCs manifestos. The second aspect being what is there for the student community and in the education sector by dint of what is contained in the Zanu-PF manifesto.

    MDCs loss: What did the student community lose?

    Judging from reality

    The leader of MDC-T party Morgan Tsvangirai acknowledges in his introductory message in the manifesto that ‘real’ MDC-T cadres, student activists included have come a long way since the inception of the party in 1999 and that these cadres, him included, have gone through many trials and tribulations whereby lives have been lost, limbs broken, livelihoods broken and houses burnt down. As much as this assertion does not directly recognize that student activists have been persecuted in different ways there is an assumption this is indirectly implied in the assertion. However, it would have been prudent for the MDC-T leader to openly and directly recognize the sacrifices made by student activists. The most worrying thing for student activists notwithstanding that Tsvangirai acknowledges that the MDC-T cadre has gone through trials and tribulations is the absence of survivors of victimization from the students’ ilk in those he has of late surrounded himself with and those staffing the MDC-T secretariat in gainful positions and the government where MDC-T wielded some power to employ. There seem to be a well established former student activist-phobia in the echelons of MDC-T mainly being championed by former students activist who were lucky to be propelled by the collectivity of students to those positions of influence for representation of student activists’ interests. What these misguided elements in the MDC-T; whom the import of their actions in closing out former student activists has alienated the former student activist active support of MDC-T thereby sowing the seeds of an electoral defeat as the one we have just witnessed in 2013 harmonized elections; can be expressed through an analogy of a community that collectively builds a ladder, but upon finishing a few use the ladder to rise and lift the ladder off the ground to where they are leaving many stranded. Such tendencies by their nature are likely to backfire and indeed they are backfiring in a massive way by robbing MDC-T a deserved victory. For MDC-T it is now back to the drawing board and it is hoped this time it will also be the time to reflect on who are real MDC-T cadres and what are their concerns and issues as an important stakeholder.

    It is interesting to observe that the MDC-T manifesto, in elucidating the point on decline of education as one of the seven challenges that Zimbabwe has faced in the last three decades, state that ‘(o)ur young people graduating from high school(s), colleges and universities want jobs’. The pressing and inevitable question that comes to the mind of any student activist who has suffered due to undeserved neglect particularly at the turn of the millennium, while opportunities including education and employment opportunities were being availed to relatives and friends of MDC-T political elites is the genuineness of the above claim. To any thinking former student activists, right now languishing in the job market without any professional qualification due to expulsion from college in pursuit of the ‘struggle’, the above recognition that young people want jobs and the promise of 1 million jobs is but political rhetoric only appealing to the uninitiated within the MDC-T and maybe also to the unsuspecting ordinary Zimbabwean hungry for change. Tsvangirai says that, ‘what defines us is our resilience and our ability to see opportunity in the face of adversity’; not any more. Indeed opportunities within the MDC-T secretariat and government have come, indeed in the face of adversity and were seen by all but given to connections of political elites who bear no scars of the ‘struggle’. An election is a time to account and indeed it is given that the student community judged Tsvangirai harshly in this harmonized election not to mention by former allies in the NCA, teachers’ movement and the labour movement. Under section ‘why the movement for democratic Change was formed’ the manifesto acknowledges that the party has deep parental roots in Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), a broad based coalition of churches, women’s groups, a constitutional movement led by the NCA, student unions, and civil society organizations. Well the party has come of age as indeed does every child; however, prematurely though and in a manner uncharacteristic of many children in the African culture it has neglected its filial duties and responsibilities to its parentage and ancestry.

    MDC-T manifesto states that “(i)t is our historic mission to meet the demands of the present generation, to fulfil(l) the dreams of our cadres who are no longer with us and the aspirations of generations that will come after us”. Is that so? It further states that, “MDC was formed in direct response to the needs and expectations of the people of Zimbabwe regarding better governance. They yearned for change and they created the MDC as the change agent”. What change has been there for students? The MDC-T has been in inclusive government for 5 years; what did it do about meeting the demands of the present generation of cadres in the student movement who were expelled and suspended from universities and colleges and who continued to be wantonly victimized under the nose of a cabinet with a significant MDC-T component. The MDC-T should by now have demonstrated through the limited room it has had in assisting the students for it to earn the benefit of doubt that upon being entrusted with the full control of the state livers of power through an election it will ‘leave no one behind’ as is stated in the MDC-T vision contained in the manifesto.

    The MDC-T states in its manifesto that it delivered ‘books to our schools’ and that it was responsible for the ‘resuscitation to a collapsed education system’. The books to our schools initiative being referred to here is the Education Transition Fund (ETF) books. Is the MDC-T sincere in claiming that ETF in the manner it has done in the manifesto as if it was an outright MDC-T initiative? For the record the ETF was launched on September 14th 2009, by MDC-N Minister of Education- then Senator David Coltart and was described by UNICEF country representative Dr. Peter Salama at the signing ceremony on March 24, 2010 as a unique partnership between the (inclusive) government of Zimbabwe, UNICEF and UNESCO, donor governments and civil society, aimed at achieving truly national impact. If there is any political stakeholder that can claim more association with the ETF it is the inclusive government in the first place, in the second place MDC-N and in particular through former Senator David Coltart and MDC-T in the distant third place. With regards to Zanu-PF the party totally disassociates itself from the ETF in its manifesto discussed in detail below.

    Further the MDC-T manifesto says that ‘above all, the MDC’s greatest achievement has been the restoration of hope among the people of Zimbabwe; the realization that it is possible to have a prosperous Zimbabwe’. In addition the manifesto reads ‘we will clean up the corrupt practices that have robbed our country of the money we need to provide social services to the people’. Against what is stated in the manifesto, the reality on the ground is that there has not been any restoration of hope for the student activists who have suffered over the years; actually they are in state of despair, desperation and destitution. How then does MDC-T claim to be wielding the efficacy to clean corrupt practices in social services like education when it has itself failed to exorcise the demon of corrupt practices within its rank and file to the extent that there is now undisputed former student activist-phobia in filling of opportunities arising within the MDC-T echelons both in the party and in government. Morgan Tsvangirai is barricaded from interfacing with real cadres, former student activist included; by a cabal of strangers to grassroots politics, strangers to the trenches and police cells and by weakly schooled praise singers and sycophants who instead of advising him objectively and professionally feed him with lies and pedestrian analysis of politics as if they are proponents of project 2016 which is designed to give poisonous advice to Tsvangirai and to hand-drag him to committing personal blunders and mistakes- so that upon losing the 2013 harmonized elections he is forced through the now wide open exit door from the presidency.

    Now to the promises

    With regards to MDC-T promises relevant to the student movement and the education sector the party in its first 100 days in office; which in any case have been overtaken by events include introduction of a law ensuring universal free basic education; reintroduce student loans and grants in all tertiary educational institutions and repeal of undemocratic laws, including POSA and AIPPA which militated against student activists’ freedoms of association and assembly. Well this would have gone a long way in assisting current students and not former student activist and survivors of student repression in tertiary education institutions.

    The manifesto states that the MDC-T’s JUICE plan, with regards to education was meant to enable the government to provide effective social services – quality health and education. In addition the manifesto contains the following promises had the MDC-T won the election: free basic education for all citizens in compliance with the Constitution; improved working conditions and compensation for all teacher; professional status and dignity to the teaching profession; full access to education for the girl-child; improved system for technical, vocational education training; reintroduction of grants and loans program for tertiary/university students; establishment of a system of bursaries and scholarships for disadvantaged students; investment in sport development in schools; an establishment of a national language policy to promote and recognize indigenous languages. If these were to come into fruition the lot of the ordinary student would be improved. The manifesto went further to cater for special needs and disability. In relation to education the MDC-T promised to provide people living with disabilities with state funded-education and training.

    In its Manifesto the MDC-N proposed to revitalize the education system and lay emphasis on the following:

    • Ensuring that constitutional provisions on affordable quality education are implemented.
    • Encouraging not only private-public sector participation in education, but also affording local communities a chance to participate effectively in school and college governance.
    • Equal opportunity for all stakeholders through registered and acknowledged community needs on educational inputs and expectations.
    • Investing in academic literature, e-learning, libraries and laboratory equipment.
    • Emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to suit local community needs especially in previously deprived regions.
    • An aggressive education affirmative action that focuses on the girl child, women, the poor, the socially-disadvantaged, people with disabilities, orphans and other vulnerable sections of society.
    • Restoration and enhancement of the professional dignity of the teaching career through decent and competitive working conditions.
    • Promoting sport and cultural development in primary schools and offering incentives to community-based sporting academies.
    • Develop and capacitate a robust and effective Education Research and Development Function that generates knowledge and evidence-based education data.
    • Provoking and informing the education conversation to facilitate modern education technologies and knowledge innovations based on international best practice.
    • Developing comprehensive strategy for affirmative provision of infrastructure and education support services- Medium Term and Long Term programmes including mobile laboratories, mobile libraries, special incentives for teachers in remote, rural schools specific national educational strategy for children with disabilities.
    • Allowing for organized, unrestrained and legitimate on campus student activism that nurtures future leadership and participation in governance.

    Just like the MDC-T the MDC-N government had offered to resuscitate vocational and technical education to ensure it is directly linked to our government’s industrial policy. There was going to be only one Ministry of Education but with highly professional education secretaries to each cater for basic, primary, tertiary and vocational education had the MDC-N won. MDC-N had also promised that every student who qualifies will be admitted in a university or college of their choice and where necessary, with State assistance.

    Zanu-PF election victory: What the student stand to gain?

    The reality

    Today all the victimization of students through arrests, persecutions, expulsions, illegal detention, torture, suspensions, eviction from halls of residence, loss of limbs and lives, dilapidation of infrastructure and many other evils associated with the challenges that the ordinary student has faced in the last three decades and more tellingly in after the turn of the new millennium are attributable squarely to Zanu-PF government. In a nutshell the party has largely failed the student community and went on to persecute student activists protesting against the failure by the Zanu-PF in meeting basic student needs as if the message was to say ‘you must not complain’. Today the Zanu-PF government has created destitution in the survivors of such persecution who have no professional qualifications to their names. In its manifesto the Zanu-PF shifts the blame to the effects of sanctions and illegal regime change agenda. Well the dilapidating infrastructure and other failure to meet basic needs could be reasonably connected to the effects of sanctions; however, the persecution of student activists by the Zanu-PF government could never be connected to sanctions and the Zanu-PF government stand exposed and defenceless in that regard for its heavy handedness in dealing with protesting students and today bears the responsibility of making amends to assist the survivors of its yester year repression.

    The party may take pride as it does in its manifesto in the Presidential scholarship; in maintaining the architecture of Zimbabwe's system of education notwithstanding the challenges that Zimbabwe has faced over the last decade; in the highest literacy rate in Africa which was authoritatively put at 96.4 percent by the UNDP and in increasing number of education institutions and enrolments as shown in the table below.

      1980 2013
    Number of universities 1 20
    Enrolment at universities 2000 69000
    Number of teacher’s colleges 8 14
    Enrolment at teacher’s colleges 4900 17300
    Number of polytechnics 2 13
    Enrolment at polytechnics 3000 17000

    However, without moving on to address the symptoms whose root causes the party say it’s the sanctions and illegal regime change, such as expulsion and suspension of former student activists, brain drain of teachers and so on the party will not have done justice. And there is nothing in the manifesto to the effect that Zanu-PF will capitulate in its yester year heavy handedness on the defenceless ball pen wielding students.

    In what the manifesto refers to as ‘threats to winning the goals of the people’ it acknowledges many of the challenges but not those that the party has over the years deliberately inflicted on defenceless front line student activists most of them expelled from tertiary education institutions. The plight of the expelled and suspended student activists seem to fall off the cracks of Zanu-PF’s Indigenization and People’s Empowerment reform programme.

    In the same section on ‘threats to winning the goals of the people’ the manifesto unfairly criticizes the ETF in Professor Jonathan Moyo’s style without giving credit to and conceding the many successes that the fund has registered. It is unfair and unjustifiable for Zimbabwe to shun donors in what the manifesto put as ‘(d)onorfication of the education and health sectors. As much as donors have political interests it is too sweeping to cluster all of them in the regime change basket. Here the manifesto criticizes for the sake of criticism and political expedience. There is no evidence linking ETF to regime change agendas neither is there evidence that the ‘ETF has been used to bribe and corrupt headmasters, teachers, provincial and district education officials some who are now hostile to the established system of education in the country’. This is largely a blatant lie. In addition the Zanu-PF manifesto makes unsubstantiated and outlandish allegations that the so called ‘donorfication is driven by sinister motives inspired by the desire to uproot the architecture of education and health delivery built by Zanu-PF since 1980 and widely acknowledged around the world as hallmarks of unparalleled success’. This thinking is retrogressive and needs to be nipped in the bud to allow for future maturely beneficial collaborations between a Zanu-PF government, civil society and donors. There could be a need to fine tune the ETF model but dismissing it wholesomely is foolhardy.

    Zanu-PF’s promises: the empowerment policies

    The Zanu-PF all purpose tool for moving the country forward in all sectors is the policy of Indigenization and People’s Economic Empowerment. Among many other beneficiaries, the manifesto states that the beneficiaries of the policy interventions will include students and schools and the inclusion of such category of beneficiaries is hinged on its so-called ‘education for all policy’. The support of student community and the education sector according to the manifesto is through the development of social infrastructure. To demonstrate what Zanu-PF promises there is need to interrogate its policy further.

    Zanu-PF’s Indigenization and People’s Economic Empowerment policy is supported by the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act and as is observed in the manifesto the minimum threshold of 51 percent ownership by the indigenous population is statutory and thus non-negotiable across all the 14 key sectors of the economy. The ownership of at least 51 percent of equity by indigenous entities according to the manifesto is based on the fact that Zimbabweans have sovereignty over their God given natural resources which they fully own and out of which they have 100 percent stake. The manifesto states that this stake is what entitles Zimbabweans to 51 percent ownership of any joint business venture with foreign investors. In addition the Manifesto states that over the next five years between 2013 and 2018, Zanu-PF will create value from the 51 percent of assets that will be unlocked from the Indigenization programme. Further the manifesto notes that in most indigenization transactions that have been initiated thus far, the approach has been to earmark 10 percent of the 51 percent of indigenized equity to community trusts, another 10 percent to employee share ownership schemes and the balance of 31 percent has been earmarked to the National Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Fund (NIEEF) for warehousing in a structure and for purposes that still need elaboration and refinement but will be largely used for the benefit of the ordinary Zimbabweans and not the political elites.

    At least US$7,3 billion worth of assets is projected from the indigenization of 1,138 foreign companies in 12 key sectors of the economy according to the manifesto. Of that US$2 billion will be invested through capacitating the IDBZ in social infrastructure covering education, health, housing, welfare, security and safety services, water and sanitation. There is no breakdown in the manifesto as to itemized allocations to the various sectors mentioned above or a formula to be used for the allocations. It will therefore be difficult to hold the Zanu-PF accountable should it neglect one of the sectors.

    The manifesto also makes the following promises with regards to the education sector which are also contained in the new constitution:

    • The State must take all practical measures to promote (a) free and compulsory education; and (b) higher and tertiary education;
    • The State must take measures to ensure that girls are afforded the same opportunities as boys to obtain education at all levels;
    • Every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has a right to (a) a basic State-funded education, including adult basic education; and (b) further education, which the State, through reasonable legislative and other measures, must make progressively available and accessible.


    In terms of promises contained in all the manifestos the student community and the education sector has not lost much viz-a-vis the electoral outcome.

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