By Beloved Chiweshe
THE robbery and callous murder of Sydney Tapfumaneyi, a final year Business Studies student at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) should be wholly blamed on UZ v
ice-chancellor, Levy Nyagura, the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education as well as the government for gross negligence, incompetence and disregard for human life.
Sydney becomes the second student to be murdered after the eviction of students from the halls of residence at the UZ on July 9.
In August, Tafirenyika Magwidi, a humanities student was murdered in the company of two unidentified men along Airport Road in Harare. Tafirenyika’s naked body was found between the Catholic University in Hatfield and the One Commando army barracks. He had decided to walk home after failing to secure transport. Over 4 000 students were evicted from the UZ campus.
The Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) has condemned the eviction of students from the halls of residence at the University of Zimbabwe, arguing that campus life forms an integral and vital cog of university and college life.
Campus life, apart from offering proximity to learning facilities, plays an imperative role in providing students with positive peer pressure, opportunities to learn from each others’ experiences and mostly much needed security from thieves, rapists and murderers. Students on campus collectively present themselves with security by forming a cohesive group which has concern for the welfare of each other.
As if the loss of human resources through brain drain, as trained personnel migrate to greener pastures is not enough, we are now seeing loss of lives through bloody murders such as the one in which Sydney’s life was lost. Human life is sacred and ought to be given the respect it deserves.
It was clear that the move to evict students would have fatal casualties. Such shortsightedness on the part of administrators should not be tolerated in modern day society. For the administrators to claim that it had not been forecast is hypocrisy at its worst.
Sydney was among the many students whose desire and passion for academic excellence resulted in them sacrificing their lives. The unavailability of accommodation, expensive or otherwise, has not spared students who solely depend on their parents’ paltry salaries for survival.
It is very sad to note how uncaring the people who are running public office can be. Sydney had decided to officially seek refuge at the premises where he was currently staying in Waterfalls.
The majority of students are living as vagrants, with friends or with distant relatives. Another group of students of no fixed abode move from one night club to the other as dusk of every given day approaches.
Desperate female students have been taken advantage of by financially capacitated and morally deficient old males. Male students have not been spared either by older women thereby exposing the intelligentsias of this nation to the deadly HIV and Aids pandemic.
The murder provides all like minded, progressive, and forward looking parents with an opportunity to interrogate the eviction of students from a moral and parental point of view. Learning that the decomposing body of one’s son was discovered after three days is emotional torture. Sydney’s struggle was symbolised by his death, may his soul rest in peace.
We will not confine ourselves to discussing Sydney’s case in isolation but will criticise, condemn and lambast the education delivery system in the country in its broadest sense. The rot is evident at primary schools and secondary schools.
Teachers have become the laughing stock when it comes to salaries. They are justifiably a demoralised and demotivated lot. Add to this, the shortage of text books which are a vital component for any learning process. Surely the education sector needs an overhaul.
Human life should be dignified, I will not comment on the death of the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa’s son, Chengetai, while studying in the United States.
While we don’t celebrate the death, I wish to use the life and studies of the minister’s son to illustrate the parallel education patterns emerging in Zimbabwe, one for the elite which is well funded and is beyond the reach of many and a second system running parallel which is underfunded and pretends to have its
doors open to everyone when actually it does not.
Despite ministers preaching the evils of imperialism, they still send their children to the same countries they pretend to despise. The small group of the Zanu PF elite is plundering the country’s wealth and spending fortunes on educating their children abroad, while convincing us that we still have the best education delivery system.
It’s not surprising, their parents were brought about by the same system, were educated abroad and do not understand the needs of a grade seven pupil in Zhombe.
The majority of the ministers educate their children outside Zimbabwe, often at top universities in the US, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Australia has already deported eight students whose parents are senior members of Mugabe’s cabinet and there are calls for other countries to do the same as the government’s policies deny the majority basic education. Hartmann House, St Georges, Prince Edward and St Johns are among the schools the minister’s son attended before pursuing tertiary education in the United States. Surely there is need for the imbalances to be addressed urgently before an anti-apartheid like Soweto uprising.
May the soul of the minister’s son rest in peace.
It is these disappointing and ugly events that characterise our learning today that prompt the many demonstrations that students embark on, day in day out, against a background of the escalating brutality of the regime and its surrogate and partisan police. For those who have always been wondering, we cannot sit idly and watch developments such as these.
With no military and police arsenal at our disposal and our only strength being our capacity to harness the power of the people, we promise that his tragic death will not be taken lightly and as students we will do all that is permissible in a democratic society to protest. Only last week students stormed the streets of Harare protesting against the closure of the campus halls and the deteriorating education delivery.
As concerned students, we are calling on government to urgently revisit the evictions with a sober mind in order to avoid more deaths. There are a number of individuals and organisations who, if approached, are willing to give a hand in the renovations of the halls of residence.
It is high time the administrators and those in the responsible ministry and government come up with a holistic, all inclusive and students-centered approach to the looming humanitarian crisis at the University of Zimbabwe. We deserve to be treated with human dignity.
I extend my condolences to the Tapfumaneyi family. Sydney’s loss is not only a loss for the Tapfumaneyi family but for all the students in Zimbabwe. We solely blame the death on President Robert Mugabe’s brutal regime. May Sydney’s soul rest in eternal peace.
lBeloved Chiweshe is the Secretary General of Zinasu.