By Mlondolozi Ndlovu
THE Zimbabwe National Student Union (Zinasu) says it has planned countrywide protests to press government to address the increasingly tough economic conditions which have led to massive university dropouts in recent years.
Zinasu president, Alister Pfunye said the current economic situation has seen parents who paid fees for their children fail to do so and they were directing their anger at government.
“We will be having protests on the 31st of August which has to do with students fees, we witnessed more than 12 000 dropping out last semester, we are expecting more than 500 000. Their parents are being retrenched from work, the liquidity crunch among other issues,” said Pfunye.
Zimbabwe’s current economic crisis has seen massive retrenchments which have driven millions into the informal sector.
Lately, there has been a crippling cash shortage while government has also increasingly failed to pay civil servants on time.
The deteriorating situation has ignited protests among citizens who feel government was responsible for the rot.
Similarly, university students have felt the heat with many female students turning to prostitution in efforts to raise fees.
Because of the situation, Pfunye said students were joining the protests to raise awareness around their plight.
“On the 31st of August institutions of high learning are going to resemble ghost towns. The students are swimming in a cesspool of poverty and free falling in a bottomless pit of economic hardships while the Zanu PF government is doing absolutely nothing to improve our plight,” he said.
Pfunye said the students group will now resist attempts by university authorities to turn away those who have not paid fees.
“Given this background ZINASU has decided that institutions cannot be allowed to open because the majority of students have no money to pay fees as such, if institutions are opened the few that can afford will carry on with studies and leave behind the many that have no financial capacity,” added.
He further urged the government to put in place mechanisms that can allow students easier access to education.
“What we are doing is sending a clear message to the Zanu PF regime that as long as it does not put in place mechanisms to ensure that those who have no money are afforded their right to education we will not allow public institutions which are supposed to carter for the under privileged to be institutions where only the rich learn and the poor.”