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Mudenge: Hypocrite of the first pedigree
Trevor Murai, Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU)
January 12, 2007

It was with ululations, roars of applause and relief hearing the minister-s remarks to the effect that students of tertiary education institutions will not be sent off on the basis of not paying fees. The minister of Higher and tertiary education is on record for tenaciously defending this position but reality on the ground dismisses his remarks as pure empty rhetoric. The increase in college dropouts are screaming evidence that students are being systematically forced out of colleges. Mudenge is fully aware; we presume, that students at the University of Zimbabwe could not access their 2005-2006 academic year second semester results without full payment of tuition and accommodation fees for that particular semester.

The minister should be advised to take a closer surveillance on tertiary institutions as their actions and operations reduce him to a cheap political propagandist. The 2006 February once off hikes in the history of this country was beyond the reach of many parents and guardians. Parents and guardians had to sacrifice their servings, beasts and properties to pay the hiked fees. This is not sustainable; parents can not continue to lose their accumulated wealth in vain for college students whilst the job market is shrinking at an alarming alacrity. Unemployment levels are at 80%. There are no jobs for college graduates. One wonders how the graduates will replace the wealth of parents that is being depleted in pursuit of their education.

The situation is worse off for the coming semester. We are incensed and anguished with the neglect by Mudenge-s ministry of its responsibilities to subsidize operations at tertiary education institutions. Total fees payable at the University of Zimbabwe range from $590 000 to $650 000. Good heavens only in 2004 we were given payouts and free catering services. Where did the wheels come off Mudenge?

The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) registers here its abhorrence and indignation due to the government insensitivity to the plight of tertiary education students. We appeal that it is prudent and vital at this juncture for the government to subsidize costs in the departments of catering services. Institutions of higher learning are not miraculous, and operating viably in this artificially created hyper inflationary environment means that the institutions have to pass on the burden to the students. In a sense the fees charged make an economic sense and are a glaring evidence in as far as exposing the failure and irresponsibility of the government of the government to contain inflation.

The rate of inflation juxtaposed with real incomes posits that the government has no option but to subsidize its service delivery departments. One wonders what is happening to the tax payer-s money from the consolidated revenue fund. A quick economic marathon: the average salary for the civil servants is estimated to be at $50 000, a family of six is estimated to need $300 000 for it to buy groceries enough for a month-the poverty datum line, already there is a deficit of $250 00- yet tertiary fees are pegged at around $600 000. Can someone tell us, where the fees supposed to come from? Surely you have to be a thief or fraudster to survive in this country of ours.

ZESA employees are on strike, junior doctors are on strike and towards closing last year the UZ staff was on strike. ZINASU takes this opportunity to give solidarity to all Zimbabweans engaging in industrial action. Comrades we congratulate you for the brave stance you have taken, none but yourselves shall champion your cause towards realization of freedom from repression. For how long shall we be used as pillars of shouldering ZANU(PF)-s blunders and failures .Had the brains of think-tank and old folks in ZANU(PF) gone on a decade vacation to implement policies that has led to the stinking economic hegemony.

ZINASU castigates and denounce the use of state reactionary missionary to wipe away symptoms of the economic sewage that ZANU (PF) has created. We demand the right of the freedom of expression and association for all Zimbabweans-represented by progressive bodies such as ZCTU, ZINASU, NCA, Crisis Coalition and so on. We demand to be consulted in decision making to do with us students. We will resist tenaciously and with savage vehemence any attempts by the government to impose decisions, in which we have a stake, without fully seeking our opinions.

It is foolhardy for ZANU (PF) to expect us to sit and fold our arms or to shun us away or to expel us and suspend us from colleges for seeking to attain our destiny. This is our country, the youths, as much as it is theirs, the old folks. Destiny is not a matter of chance but of choice thus the old folks should not be hostile to us in an endeavor to mould our own destiny. If the old folks were to take a sober assessment, they will reckon that during their youth days they fought nail and claw against the Smith regime so that they could influence their own destiny i.e. their future. Surely is this the Zimbabwe that the old folks fought for?

ZINASU is mandated by the students movement; derived from up to 44 colleges to champion and shape the Zimbabwe we want as future leaders, workers and ambassadors of our beloved country. ZINASU is duty bound to act and no amount of force, ZANU (PF) repression, strife, incarceration or frivolous expulsions will ever curtail or barricade us. As the leaders of the movement we follow the views of the majority of the students as it is the basis of our authority. We have no illusions about the barbaric, inhuman violence of the reactionary forces but us the masses will never be ZANU (PF) defeated. Napoleon Bonaparte won wars against many armies but the moment he fought the masses he was defeated. No repression is immortal; the fate of Ian Smith, Adam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Juvenal Habyarimana and Adolf Hitler may bear testimony to this.

We stubbornly demand for academic freedom. Education is our birthright we stand resolute forever to defend our beliefs.

*Trevor Murai is the treasurer general at the student's union at the UZ.

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