President Robert Mugabe says he has decided to stay on as president as he wants to prevent regime change that‚ he says‚ has been promised by the US.
Speaking at the Fort Hare centenary celebrations in Alice‚ in the Eastern Cape‚ on Friday‚ Mugabe said western forces wanted to bring about regime change in Africa.
Mugabe‚ who has been president of Zimbabwe since 1987‚ said the US had publicly said it wanted to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.
"I am hanging on because I want to prevent regime change. It will never come‚" Mugabe said‚ to the applause of the assembled guests.
Mugabe‚ who studied at Fort Hare and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1951‚ said it had been a long struggle by Africans to prove that they were equal to other races.
He said Africans had proved they could run their own affairs.
"Let products from here truly represent what our elders sought to make students become in life: leaders of people who were courageous, but educated."
Mugabe said when Zimbabwe became independent‚ he decided that every child had a right to education‚ not just primary but also tertiary.
He also said he decided to accelerate gender equality‚ starting with the education of a girl child.
He said Zimbabwe did not have many universities at the time.
He said that between 1995 and 2016‚ a scholarship fund saw 3‚679 Zimbabwean students complete their studies in South African institutions‚ 3‚010 of them graduating from Fort Hare.
Mugabe said now that Zimbabwe had 14 universities‚ the number of Zimbabwean students being sent to SA had dwindled.
But he did not want the scholarship fund to die completely.
"Although we have reduced numbers‚ we will maintain the scholarship to Fort Hare as a tribute of what it has done‚ its African-ness‚ the history of the ANC and the making of the African nation. That is the history we share‚" Mugabe said.
On gender equality‚ Mugabe said there was a tradition that boys deserved to be educated‚ and that girls would get married when they turned 18.
"But now‚ I said: ‘Let’s educate them on an equal basis’‚" Mugabe said.
Speaking at the same event, President Jacob Zuma described the University of Fort Hare as a rare institution because of the number of African leaders it has produced.
Zuma quoted the university’s famous alumnus former president Nelson Mandela‚ who described the institution as "both a home and incubator of the greatest African scholars".
"Fort Hare defied the objectives of colonial masters and became an instrument of liberation‚" said Zuma. "We are filled with pride when we mention the formidable intellectuals and leaders produced by this university.
"This institution produced five heads of state — a rare achievement in the history in humankind. The leaders were not just Pan Africanist but also internationalist‚ with diverse ideological and political orientation. Among them there was so much unity in what they wanted to do‚" Zuma said.
The heads of states are: Mandela; Yusuf Lule of Uganda; Mugabe; Ntsu Mokhehle of Lesotho; and Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana.
Other leaders the university has produced are: Prof ZK Mathews‚ who in 1923 became the first African to obtain a BA at a South African institution; ANC stalwarts Govan Mbeki and Oliver Tambo; founding member and first president of the Pan Africanist Congress Robert Sobukwe; slain South African Communist Party secretary-general Chris Hani and former minister of public service and administration and social development Zola Skweyiya.