Friday 16 September 2022


UNIVERSITY of Zimbabwe students say they are living in fear and skipping lectures amid strong suspicion of an ongoing police witch-hunt to bring to book suspects behind recent demonstrations that rocked the institution of higher learning following a massive fees hike.

Tuition fees at the university went up ten-fold to hit $500 000 for undergraduates and almost double for masters students.

Allegations are that the police, working with the ruling Zanu PF-linked Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union (Zicosu), are targeting students affiliated to the opposition.

Students who spoke to NewsDay Weekender on condition of anonymity said they had to run from the institution after receiving threats and tip-offs.

“Students are being arrested one by one by police. Two of our classmates received calls to hand themselves to the police. They are being sold out by Zicosu students who are in support of the fee hike. It’s actually bad,” one female student said, requesting not to be named.

“I was threatened today (Thursday) and phoned my parents to come and pick me up, I am now home. We need a safe environment and not these threats that are happening.”

Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) president Benon Ncube confirmed that most students were now living in fear at UZ.

“We have heard of that problem, especially those that belong to the union. A number of students are afraid. On Wednesday and Thursday, others were arrested on campus after they were suspected to have organised the demonstration,” he said.

Usually, when there is a situation like this, they (our members) are usually sold out. So, they probably have a list of those alleged to have participated in the demonstrations.

“In most cases, it’s the Students Representative Council (SRC) members and those that belong to Zinasu that are targeted.”

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said: “I am not aware of the alleged witch-hunt. Anyone who alleges that the police are in a witch-hunt against students should prove those allegations.

“Our advice is that students and their leadership must follow the law in whatever they do, simple!”

Zicosu president Pijiwest Nhamburo denied reports that his members were involved in the alleged witch-hunt.

“We are not a terror gang. There is nowhere where you find our members participating in a witch-hunt.

“We have not received reports of them doing that. Our duty is to represent the students and make sure that their campus life is fine,” he said.

“In contrast, students are getting threatening messages from their colleagues who are continuously mobilising for demonstrations. They have been calling and seeking for protection since they want to attend lectures. We have since alerted the authorities.”

Added Nhamburo: “From the onset, we made it clear that we are not in support of the demonstration. By the time they were demonstrating, we were at the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education lobbying for the downward review of the fees. We have since engaged the government and the administration at UZ to review the fees downwards.”

Nhamburo accused Zinasu of politicising students’ issues.

“They try to bring political issues where they are not supposed to. The fees issue is a genuine problem which needs genuine engagement. It’s only through engagement that we get positive results and not through confrontation,” he said.

UZ vice-chancellor Paul Mapfumo told NewsDay Weekender that normalcy had been restored at the institution.

“Which witch-hunt and who is doing that? I am hearing that from you, students are attending their classes.

“If you come right now, you can be in class. I am walking around their lecture rooms right now and they are moving freely,” Mapfumo said.

“I don’t know where those details are coming from,” he added.

Sixteen students were arrested on Monday and five on Wednesday for participating in the demonstrations. They were later released. Newsday


Post a Comment