Zimbabwe’s permanent secretary in the Higher and Tertiary ministry, Fanuel Tagwira, has appealed to students of tertiary institutions in the country to shun planned demonstrations over fee hikes.
Tagwira said a reduction of fees will cripple learning institutions. He added that fee hikes have become inevitable due to soaring inflation so much that government bears the running cost and burdens of most institutions’ expenses. He said:
“If institutions decrease fees, the reality is that there will be no quality education to talk of. Already, since the fee hikes, there has been inflation and the fees they are paying now can only cover at least 70% of the institutions’ expenses.”
Tagwira’s remarks are coming following demands by ZINASU along with teachers and nurses calling for a national shutdown next Monday in a “fees must fall” protest and against the backdrop of rising cost of living.
Teachers and nurses say they are failing to make ends meet, with their salaries having been battered by inflation while university students say new tuition fees are unaffordable.
Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) national spokesperson Lenon Mazuru said they will collectively register their discontent at the current state of affairs in the country by calling for a nationwide shutdown. Mazuru said:
“We are calling and inviting all other unions to support us on May 9. We need the government to address us and we need the crisis to end. This thing is way beyond ‘fees must fall’, hence everyone must take part. Every university, college, we are going to shut them down.”
Tagwira says ZINASU is making itself a willing tool in the hands of politicians. The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) and Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union (ZPNU) pledged full support for the shutdown, and urged their members to withdraw their services on the day
Health Services Board (HSB) chairperson Paulinus Sikhosana said yesterday that he was unaware of nurses intending to join the planned protests.
In the past, the government has responded to protests by shutting down social media platforms, and deploying troops to potential hot spots.
In March, Police arrested and later released 10 ZINASU members during a protest over the University of Zimbabwe’s more than 100 percent fees hike. Student leader Allan Moyo has remained in prison for over a year.
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