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Exorbitant fees, a demobilizing strategy
January 18, 2007
The recent unparalleled
2000% fees hike in the tertiary education institutions by the 'government'
of the day is a mere but evil ploy or plot to demobilize the students.
It is a 16th century desperate strategy, for which the 'artificial
government' or 'government by deception' must be exposed. Without
equivocation, it can be noted that common sense has been brutally
murdered in the corridors of power in Zimbabwe and idiocy is now
rampaging with arrogant impunity. Dear Zimbabweans, the phalanx
of degreed bandits /thugs (I mean real degrees and degrees in violence)
ruining this country has reached the highest level of mediocrity.
It goes without
saying that the students are an organized catalyst of social/democratic
change in any country undergoing process of eroding authoritarianism.
Students are a fundamentally important component in the Zimbabwean
body politic. They constitute the largest reservoir of the critical
mass. History is awash with cases where students fought tooth and
nail to bring down dictatorship in their respective countries. In
Serbia, Indonesia, Nigeria and needless to mention South Africa,
students played a decisive role in liberating their countries from
the bondage of ruthless and unbridled despotism.
In light of
the above submissions, the government is eagerly waiting for the
students to stage demonstrations and then the otherwise disgruntled
police will be unleashed to provoke the peaceful protest. Knowing
students from my humble experiences as a former student leader,
these clashes will turn violent and the government will then find
a justification to shut down all the major colleges/universities
in Zimbabwe. The nation must be reminded of the 1998 demonstrations
that rocked University of Zimbabwe and spread like a bush fire in
the dry season to other colleges, in response the government closed
the University. If the research conducted by ZINASU
is anything to go by, then demobilization strategy is already in
work. Pertinent data from the preliminary results shows that 31.5%
students were forced out of school due to high fees. At Hillside
Teachers College in Bulawayo there has been a drastic decrease of
in take from the usual 600 student teachers to the unusual 200.
The police are
equally disgruntled for the reason that they requested for 829.8
billion through their respective Ministry but the Minister of Finance
allocated them a meager 180.4 billion translating to 21.7% allocation
of their initial request. As a matter of fact, in the police, the
budgetary implications have had a severe knock on morale and sustainability
leaving the organization top heavy with no 'troops' to man the gates
within their ranks. In contrast, hefty tax-free packages have been
made available to Militia Groups and elements from the National
Youth Service, both strictly controlled by the ruling party. The
just and legitimate demand from the students for the government
to allocate 26% of the total budget to the education sector as stipulated
by UNESCO has transmogrified into a melodramatic nightmare.
is on fire, on 7 December 2006; the Ministry of Public Service &
Social Welfare of the Government of Zimbabwe released a damning
assessment of the crisis that has overshadowed the country since
2000. The report showed that standards of the living had dropped
by 150% in the last decade. The nation continues to be engulfed
in a deep seated and multifaceted socio-economic and political crisis.
In an attempt to respond , the ruling party, ZANU PF had ' experienced
with six different economic models since 1996: against stagnating
agricultural production - the mainstay of the economy, shrinking
manufacturing and declining mining and industrial output by 30%
and still continuing. Significantly, while the productive sector
has been shedding staff as a result of financial considerations
the civil service has continued to recruit and expand. In other
words, government expenditure has continued to increase while the
taxable base has shrunk considerably. The result has been hyperinflation
of anywhere near 1200% to 3670%, unemployment of over 75%, and an
exodus of skilled and semi-skilled manpower into the Diaspora, severe
foreign currency shortages leading to scarcity of basic commodities
because of central prioritization.
Given such as
a worrying state of the nation analysis, the students, being an
organized centre of resistance are expected to provide alternative
leadership to the nation desperate for a solution. Mr. Mugabe knows
it. How can the students pay more than $700 000 in tuition and accommodation
fees in state owned universities and colleges when most of the students
are sons and daughters of poor peasantry farmers and civil servants
who are also living way below the poverty datum line. Someone must
be reminded of the term 'seriousness'.
real issue is not to accept that there is a problem, the real issue
is to accept the challenge to fight and unearth the difficulty or
the hidden solution. The students like any other citizen of Zimbabwe
have endured enough pain and the endurance bowl is now spilling
over. They will not resign to temptations of complacency and watch
cowardly as the whole nation perishes. The discourse of academic
freedoms is going to be the rallying cry for the students as they
reclaim their place in the fight a robust political culture, where
the interest of the last are put first. The SAVE OUR EDUCATION;
SAVE OUR FUTURE campaign will feed into the broader democratic initiatives
such as the Save Zimbabwe campaign. WE WILL VOTE IN 2008 .
Little by little,
freedom will come
Katema is the former President of ZINASU.
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