Riots Loom As UZ Talks Break Down

Negotiations between University of Zimbabwe (UZ) authorities and students over recent fee increases have broken down and street protests are now a distinct possibility, a union leader has said.
Agerncy Gumbo, the UZ Student Union president confirmed that a meeting between the students and the authorities on Tuesday had not led to a reversal of fee increases recently imposed by the institution, as the students demanded.
“I had an opportunity to meet with the authorities of the University of Zimbabwe to try and understand the reasoning behind the recent fees hikes. It is so unfortunate that no solid and convincing reason was availed for this drastic and arbitrary manouvre,” Gumbo said. “I was shocked to learn of a newly introduced levy of $50 dubbed ‘maintenance fee’ together with some dubious increments, for example registration fee which is now $20 from $5, examination fee now $50 from $20. Such insensitivity to the plight of students surely is reflective of a gloomy future in the nation’s development. Even more unfortunate was the ministry’s ill response to this situation which they termed ‘clandestine means to avert a crisis’ but never criticized or barred.”
Gumbo said the students were now considering various options to resolve the crisis, among them:
• Call for all students to disregard the fees hikes and pay the previous fees structures.
• Call for immediate street protest against the university decision to hike fees.
• Call for government to pay the requested increase in University fees.
• Boycott registration and order the University to cancel the new fees or close down (violence is a characteristic of this option).
• Just accept the fee increases and let students study in undisturbed peace.
An online poll showed a majority of students wanted street protests.
“Where there is oppression there is bound to be resistance,” said Samuel Gwenzi, a student.
Another student, who identified himself as Comrade Danso said: “My father was awarded an increment of $57. Shame on Nyagura.”
Students and lecturers at the UZ have accused vice-chancellor Levi Nyagura of corruption, which they say is the real cause of regular fee escalations while student services are deteriorating.
On Monday, Zimbabwe National Students Union president Gilbert Mutubuki gave the UZ and all college authorities a week to reverse recent fee increases or face massive protests.
President Robert Mugabe, who is chancellor of the UZ is blamed for protecting Nyagura from corruption investigations. – Now Daily.

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