All posts by campusmoments

by Costa Nkomo

THE two leading national student bodies, ZIMBABWE Congress of Student Union (ZICOSU) and Zimbabwe National Student Union (ZINASU) faced off at University of Zimbabwe (UZ) last Friday battling for the Student Representative Council (SRC) leadership, an annual electoral exercise conducted at higher learning institutions.

ZINASU’s five year record at the helm of the UZ (SRC), came to a dramatic end as ZICOSU romped to victory through their representative Stephen Tsikirayi who garnered 33.5 percent with 1 468 votes. Tawanda Bvudzijena, representing ZINASU came second with 23.6 percent as he got 1036 votes.

University of Zimbabwe SRC Presidential Contestants.

CANDIDATE

NAME OF CANDIDATE

REG NUMBER

VOTES

A

KAMBARAMI TAKUNDA

R159467C

136

B

KASEKE FANUEL

R168683W

337

C

MUBOKO PHILIP

R141875Q

490

D

NGWENYA MONGIWABESUTHU

R156923X

921

E

TSIKIRAYI STEPHEN

T.

R145809X

1468

F

VUDZIJENA

TAWANDA

R158952B

1034

This development has been construed as a precursor to the national election to be held next year (2018). Some students said a win for ZICOSU forestalls the outcome of the next year general elections.

Takudzwa Gambiza, ZICOSU national president understood the outcome of the UZ SRC election as predictive to the next year’s general elections.

“It shows that that the negative perception towards the ruling party is slowly fading away and the students’ community is sending a clear message that the youthful community is aware of the political landscape and they are also aware of where the future of their country is”, said Gambiza.

A pulsating Nust Democratic Alliance for Academics (DAA) President, Cris Rateiwa said: “When Zicosu wins, Zanu Pf will win”.

“The reason being that, the students shunned elections at UZ, therefore they can also do the same next year much to their disadvantage” said Rateiwa.

Rateiwa lashed at ZICOSU and ZINASU saying, the two main student wings in Zimbabwe are preoccupied with satisfying the interests of mainstream political parties, Zanu PF and MDC respectively. “Most of those who win SRC positions are puppets. Once their term of office expired, their contribution to the mainstream politics is no longer important and they are dumped.”

However, the incumbent Nust SRC president differed with Rateiwa as to him student politics is strictly meant to cultivate political aspirations of the students at higher learning through various engagements without an intention of serving the interests of external politics.

“I understand that the main philosophy behind any election has little to do with any particular political party than it has with the relevant constituencies”, said Shoko. “Whether democrat or republican, the right to choose remains with the students and in the case of UZ, the students have spoken and we have to respect and trust their decision”.

ZICOSU victory at UZ has attracted debates among students community as some argue that it shows the death of student activism in Zimbabwe and that no more meaningful contribution should be expected from the student activism to national political transformation.

Former (NUST) SRC organising secretary general, Samuel Meso said while Zinasu is now an adhocracy, Zicosu victory shows that student politics has lost relevance with time.

“Student activism is confirmed dead and buried”, said Meso. “Student activism in Zimbabwe needs a catharsis and a new rebirth”

Former UZ SRC president, Gift Ostallos Siziba also weighed in as he said, “UZ used to be an island of democracy, now if you go there you meet the devil exorcising demons, it’s sad.” Said Ostallos Gift Siziba, former UZ SRC president.

Meanwhile, when contacted to establish his feeling, President Elect, Stephen Tsikirayi said, “It’s just great, I’m just having it” before hanging the phone.

ZINASU and ZICOSU have been formed to attract students at higher learning institutions. ZINASU operates under MDC .T, while ZICOSU is believed to be aligned to Zanu PF. It is for this reason that some students say student political action under these two main wings have become docile and partisan and therefore inapt to national meaningful political contributions.

SRC EXECUTIVE IN RETROSPECT: BALCONY’S VIEW

If there is a shared belief amongst the authors of education of this academic generation, it is history which they widely believe has a moral resolution to any challenge bedevilling the student community. History is embedded in retrospection and is relayed to the present generation so that their academic political archives may have something to store. Having been promised heaven and persuaded to vote for the Student Representative Council in October 2016, one would hardly believe that he or she wasted his or her vote by endorsing the incumbent SRC the most ever docile student leadership to have existed at Nust.

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In respect of the historical order that is usual told in chronological format, let us look at the previous SRCs how they performed during their time in office. History has chances of it getting distorted and I will not go back too far. Let’s start from the 2013 to 2014 academic year at Nust. The Nust SRC leadership was headed by Lucky Muza deputised by Mark Mabvumba. Not long did the short statured SRC president did prove that as his name sounded, it was real “luck” that he found himself occupying the biggest student office at Nust. It was unfortunate for Nust students as the then President, adopted an insensitive political bravura towards the students’ interests. The Muza executive was famous for lavish panache, gluttonous, larceny and policy barrenness. Most memorable is the 2013-2014 second semester academic year strike that lasted for three good weeks for parallel class students without lectures. Instead of standing for students in their time of need, Muza and his lieutenants went into hiding. Credit at this moment went to Farai Mtelisi, Rodwell Nyika et al who together with other militant students staged a historical demonstration that compelled the administration to act within 24 hours, and lectures for parallel students resumed then on. As fear infested, Muza led administration sensed calm at campus emerged from exile and the man was luck to survive an impeachment. The purchase of the “Subaru” as reported by the then Wiki leaks; struck the row nerve of some sections of students little did they know that the President had become an honest administration stooge. Allegations of funds abuse were levelled against Muza but he strongly denied any dishonest with the students funds, however, it was no coincidence that he went on to host a colourful wedding with some students alleging that he financed his wedding with the students funds he had smuggled from students coffers. Here is a brief but painful confession from one of his lieutenants as we were walking down the Mandela avenue in Harare a few days ago, Paye taidya mari vakomana, mastudents akapusa, laphana sasisidla imali madoda, amastudents ayizithutha, (that time we were squandering money too bad, students are fools) recalled Costa; the secretary general in Muza’s administration by then. I felt guilty of myself to form a company with a thief as stories of corruption were narrated in a heroic and celebrated tone, I was pierced off, we parted ways at the main post office , just before crossing Julius Nyerere heading to Copacabana. It is also during Muza era that Nust recorded the majority of deferred students as they fail to clear their dues. One thing good that can be remembered about Muza, was his ground love for students although some alleged that he was bent towards female academics. 2013-14 season ended and Muza and company exited Nust and handed over power to Shadowlite Ndou deputised by Nelson Gwarare.

The Shadowlite administration came into office when things were upside down caused by the outgoing Muza administration. Shadowlite and Gwarare’s leadership started on a rough page as the then acting dean of students Ms Magida and Shadowlite had a bad blood. Regardless of that being a huge obstacle, the Shadowlite leadership endured hard times of the opening days. Few days down the line, Ndou, as an innovative student leader proposed a bus levy for students so that students will have their own bus. The former SRC leader did not stop there, he went further to propose for the need to transfer students medical aid from CIMAS to Heritage medial aid insurer since the former had a record of dishonouring the contract. As if it was not enough, Shadow administration went further to stand for students during their registration and subsequent writing of examinations. Very few students deferred their studies during Shadow era.

Towards the end of term for Mr Ndou and his executive, regardless of the man having started on a high note, drama started to unfold as allegations of students funds surfaced. In his memoirs, he recalled that it was the 2015 21st February Movement held in Victoria Falls where hell broke loose. Shadow and his girlfriend Locardia (surname not provided), were alleged to have booked an executive room in Victoria Falls for themselves and the two were alleged to have good time together the whole night. Some reports from the Wiki-Leaks alleged that Shadow had slept with two of his girlfriends in the executive room in Victoria Falls as his threesome pictures went viral on social media. The story did not end there, Shadowlite was further alleged that he had starved students in Voctoria Falls as he bought them $1.00 priced sadza. “Mu UBA kana mu USA anofanira kudya sadza redhora, rine beans, ko handiti ndini Prsident”, this story was shared by one of his lieutenants who gave this information on anonymous basis.

The big story, however, reads as “Had Shadowlite managed the zip area, he would have been recorded as one of the SRC successful Presidents at Nust”. It happened the other way round though. The achievements he made should and cannot be erased easily from the memories of the present and graduated students.

Shadowlite came and go, then Nust students in historic numbers endorsed Rodwell Tendai Nyika deputised by Thamsanqa Ndlovu as their Presidium for the 2015 to 2016 academic year. Having campaigned with the “TAB” manifesto, the young political genius revived student activism of the past. Nyika administration embarked on acting on Ndou’s proposals and also modified some of the proposals for practicability sake.

Nyika administration scored as they managed to bring a student bus for the first time in the history of Nust. They did not stop there, they also successfully transferred student medical aid from CIMAS to Heritage medical aid insurer only to be lately betrayed by the bursar’s office that failed to channel funds to secure services for students. It is up until today, that the Bursar is failing to explain where the money for students’ medical aid is. With unstoppable lieutenants like Samuel Meso, Nyika‘s administration worked to restore the militant student activism as they regularly took the activism to students.

In one of the historic achievements, Nyika’s administration scored was of registering more than 700 students in a day. It is a memorable victory that cannot be easily erased from historical books.

However, history is continuously revealing that there is no SRC that is immune to sickness, morally, hunger for power and financially. Nyika’s administration was marred by political differences and it is such differences that held this administration back. Soon after the elections, a fight for positions ensued. As a constitutional darling, Nyika observed the stipulations of the constitution hoping that his closest ally; Samule Meso would win. The results proved otherwise and Meso lost to Knowledge Dube for the secretary general post.

It took time for Nyika and Ndlovu’s administration to come to terms with the outcome and this stood in their way as an administration, otherwise it is the administration that deserves a round of applause as you read this part. Just like any SRC at Nust, allegations of corruption were levelled against Nyika and Ndlovu administration. However, documents showed otherwise, up until proven guilty Nyika and Ndlovu’s hands seem to be clean so far. Like their predecessors, Nyika and Ndlovu’s administration ended on a bad note as the organised Sulumani Chimbetu gig fail to materialise much to the disappointments of students.

Pass the button, October 2016 period told Nyika’s administration, power was handed over to Terency Shoko and Dumisani Masuku administration having been separated by 51 votes, the only election where the winner and the runner up came close with such a figure. Prior to elections, a lot of drama unfolded and it was unpredictable. The outcome was the most unexpected. It was a heavily contested election that saw 13 participants gunning for the top job.

It took not more than two weeks for a free soap opera in the small August House to show off. On the day for executive elections, it emerged from the former SRC secretary general; Knowledge Dube that chaos erupted when Mzingaye Ndlovu dismally lost the secretary general post to Billy Muchipisi. Mzingaye, the longstanding Shoko’s ally contested the outcome and drama started.

In a bid to bring sanity to the August House, the dean of students Doctor Kamusoko called the legal proctor to explain to the SRC members how to apply the constitution when electing the executive. Thanks to live tweets from Costa Nkomo, students were given live updates on what was transpiring in the boardroom. I followed the updates with enthusiasm, but then it was Costa’s tweet that struck my nerve, “President and Mzingaye left the boardroom, Masuku assumes Presidency, Impeachment for President Looms”. What happened then that Mzingaye is still the secretary general when he lost elections in a day light, is a debate for another day.

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It took less than a month before a bad blood between the dean of students and the presidium erupted. It emerged that Shoko and Masuku denied $80.00 priced suits for their participation at the graduation ceremony in November 2016 and demanded doubled priced suits. The dean is reported to have refused their demands. How they managed to squeeze themselves all the way and convinced the Bursar’s office need to be investigated.

Notwithstanding the suits saga, Shoko and Masuku recorded a historic success of registering more than 800 students who were on the verge of deferring their studies in November 2016 and subsequently all students owing outstanding fees balances managed to write their examinations without challenges.

Barely two months after the graduation ceremony saga, was the presidium implicated in another storm. The Zanu PF People’s conference held in December 2016 invited the SRC and allegations are that the presidium demanded a tripled of the allowance they should have got. Why the Bursar gave in to these demands is another subject for another day.

January 2017 opened with another storm in the current SRC. The ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education is understood to have invited the SRC executive members to a meeting in Harare. It emerged that the SRC executive threatened to cancel the meeting if the dean refused to approve their tripled allowance. The bursar’s office is alleged to have succumbed to the demands of the executive and money from students’ coffers was given.

It also emerged that the present SRC executive reversed a finalised document to purchase a mini bus for students citing that they as a current SRC will be credited for buying a mini bus compared to Nyika and Ndlovu who bought a big bus. So the mini bus which was intended to ferry students from campus to library is no longer coming as the document was reversed by Shoko and Masuku administration.

Drama seem to keep on unfolding in the current SRC as it emerged that at the Annual General meeting held in February the executive abused students coffers as they squandered money taking advantage that they had bought students lunch pegged at $1 each. The SRC executive should be hold to account for their failure to bring transparency on what transpired at the annual general meeting. How many students attended, and how much did the bursar released for the annual general meeting journalists need to help me to investigate this story.

While the “Minister Mahendere” event was a success, it goes without saying that robbery in the house of the Lord will never be tolerated. The executive is understood to have gathered money from non-students attendees at the Gospel concert and shared it amongst themselves. “This what we call political entrepreneurship, this is how we make money,” the executive member retorted when asked by the security guard what was the money to be used for.

This is the only SRC to leave the Nust, without policy enactment, not even affording a tent for students to take shelter when reading outside. No achievement. One months and few days to go, very disappointing leadership at Nust. What has Shoko and Masuku administration did for Nust students? Lo okuthwa nguShoko udla le admin, ‘Idzi dzinonzi Shoko dzinenge dzinodya ne admin’, The Balcony’s view takes a breather.

Journalism Students Outdo SRC.

Costa Nkomo

National University of Science and Technology (NUST) students in the department of Journalism and Media Studies in collaboration with their departmental lecturers donated to Marula cyclone Dineo victims in Mangwe district last Friday, an initiative the Student Representative Council never dreamt of.

The cyclone Dineo left a lot of destruction in the country as many people were left homeless when houses were swept away especially in Matebeleland where some people have been relocated and that they are in dire need of help.

It is the duty of the SRC to partner with students to engage into civic engagement activities as a way of giving back to the community. One of the objectives of the SRC outlined in the preamble of the student union constitution is to create peace and a culture of unity which can be attained through engaging communities where students’ parents and guardians are living.

Students who brought Marula villagers donations understand that Nust does not live in isolation and therefore students’ leaders should take a leaf and step up civic engagement as they are still many victims who are in dire need of assistance.

“Nust does not exists in isolation, it exists within a community where we as students come from so we have to engage with the community especially when disasters face our village homes” said Farai Kwesha. “ SRC should take this as an example and try to do develop strategies of raising resources among the students for donations for this is the opportunity for them to shine, we also believe that engaging the communities headed by our SRC, we will make a huge impact and impression”

Student donated groceries ranging from soap, sugar, rice, cooking oil among other many items. Donations were also given in the form of money and clothes.

The most beneficiaries of the student donations were the elderly people particular Mr Mkhulunyelwa Moyo and Sinkiwe Ndlovu who their hut they were living in was brought to the ground by the cyclone. The couple is 88 and 71 years respectively.

Some students took a swipe at the present SRC for being preoccupied with organising parties yet civic engagement should top their priority when disasters like cyclone Dineo hit the communities.

“This SRC need civil engagement orientation”, said Sineke Sibanda. “We understand that there might be limited resources on their part, but there are so many ways of raising resources that the representatives can embark on, we as students we just went into students and can you imagine what we managed to gather as Journalism department , just us and our lecturers ? What more if the SRC was involved? The key problem is that the SRC always think of bashes nothing else”

Meanwhile, Marula villagers expressed joy on students’ visit to their community. They appreciated groceries from students and thanked Mr Clayton Moyo who accompanied students to Marula village. The villagers also said the cyclone Dineo destroyed their crops and some livestock.

WHY ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN ZIMBABWE HAS NOT RESULTED IN ECONOMIC GROWTH

By Michelle Munatswa

It appears that everyone in Zimbabwe is an entrepreneur. By virtue of the multitudes having one venture or another in bussiness, we are practically a nation of entrepreneurs. So why can we not turn our entrepreneurial might into sustained economic growth? Why can’t we see the emergence of more Strive Masiyiwa-like business people?

The answer to the above two questions lies in asking a third question: When does entrepreneurship not lead to economic growth? Below I have highlighted some factors contributing to a stagnant economy despite our entrepreneurial activities.

Exploitative entrepreneurship

I consider exploitative entrepreneurship as any business or venture that profits without regard to the accepted social and cultural norms and the wellbeing of others. For example, Kombi drivers from my beloved Pumula South come to mind. The normal fare to Pumula South is 50cents, but if it is after 10pm the fair doubles to a dollar. Time of day does not really add to their cost but simply presents an opportunity for them to exploit commuters who are desperate to go home. The drivers see an opportunity to make more money at night but there is no production or value added in the said venture. There is no consideration as to fairness or financial impact on the commuters. There is no value addition or production, but simply an unfair transfer of money. We need to guard against ideas that make the individual profit at the expense of the majority. Such ideas breed a culture of greed and do not encourage innovation but rather exploitation. Such ventures rob the working class of potential savings which are important for the functioning of financial institutions.

Exploitative entrepreneurship does not cause economic growth as few benefit (and live extravagant lives) while the majority wallow in poverty. The majority are robbed of purchasing power meaning that industry will not be profitable.

Occasion entrepreneurship (One hit wonder)

Entrepreneurship involves identifying opportunities. In Zimbabwe we have one hit entrepreneurs, who come across opportunities (‘Gap’) and make a quick buck, buy an ex-japan car and are back at the same cashflows as before. This represents the majority of the Zimbabweans, always looking out to hear of where there is a shortage of anything and try seek supply to meet the demand. Such business practices are not sustainable and do not add economic value as one cannot consistently be guaranteed that an opportunity will come their way. The income from once off deals is often not reinvested but is consumed callously. Once off deals are good as long as the individuals understand the need to reinvest the proceeds as opposed to having a consumptive mentality to profit. (Kudya mbewu). For there to be economic growth, there has to be both constant idea generation and also constant production. Once off deals do not bring individual or national sustainable income. Thus, for our ventures to result in economic growth, they have to be sustainable and continuous ventures.

Value creation and hunter gatherer budgeting.

Until recently, Zimbabweans associated term “Hunter gatherer” with the Khoi-san people, but the biti.jpgHonourable Tendai Biti linked the term to our country’s fiscal policy. I would also like to link it to our entrepreneurial approach. Our entrepreneurs can only invest what they have gathered. Our people have very little disposable income and consequently very little investment income. This means that their business will be limited to buying and selling airtime in the streets or other small ventures. Even though this feeds families, it does not create additional employment as most of the ventures are one man part-time shows. Our entrepreneurial activities are under capitalised and under- funded. Our “hunter gatherer”/cash budgeting approach to development limits the amount of capital available for people to invest in enterprise. Entrepreneurial activities in Zimbabwe have not led to economic growth because many are of the ventures are very small scale and only allow the entrepreneur to feed the family on a monthly basis as opposed to growing industry and trade. There is little or no pooling of resources to enable business growth.

Lack of government support to entrepreneurship

The government is responsible for shaping economic policy and creating an enabling environment for all enterprise to flourish. No clear policy direction has been established. This causes people to shy away from investing in enterprise. One can sight the small scale farmers who were given land as entrepreneurs and the move as a beacon of government involvement in entrepreneurship. However, my contention is that even the small scale farmers have received inadequate support to the extent that they have only been able to produce enough to feed their families and not the nation of Zimbabwe. Until government accepts an increased role in supporting entrepreneurs and creating an enabling environment for the growth of business, our ideas shall always remain barren and our bellies shall forever become empty. Government support should also be conditional and transparent. Government support should not only be financial but it should also be technical. Government policy should be friendly to business.

You are not still young, you are just not paying attention.

By Sineke Sibanda

In the just ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, I interacted with a number of entrepreneurs. It was amazing to see what Africans can do, and it just got me thinking, over and over again.

When I looked at some of the inventions, I thought to myself, I could see a giant rise out of Africa, given the next 20 years of a consistent positive attitude towards development.

So I heard people talk after the whole day at Trade Fair, the complaints ensued from the fact that our African countries do not have opportunities, they were too young and lots of other things. I thought to myself, is it really because there are no opportunities or people are simply not paying attention?

I sincerely believe that we are not too young, too broke or too whatever, we are simply not paying attention.

With the current state of African economies, it might need about 70-140 years of consistent development for it to reach where the first world countries are right now; and to think there are no opportunities is injustice to the future generations.

I’m not necessarily shunning out that Africa, including its leadership have a problem but my point is, we are not doing enough to make ourselves better. One of the biggest opportunities you have is that in trying to answer a need in your society, you inadvertently make yourself better.

One of the things I have learnt in my Critical theory courses and Popular Culture classes is that capitalism, which is largely the driving force behind world systems today thrives on competition and false consciousness where we are made to think that everything we want in the world have. Capitalism creates imaginary solutions, there is a lot we still need and we can still do in Africa, as Africans if we pay attention.

A capitalist system that is also stealing our time right now is the school system. Most of us are made to believe that we can only make meaningful changes after graduating but by the time we graduate, we already have other pressures that force us instead to look for a job and answer immediate needs within our families. This creates little time for us to think bigger and beyond, before we know it, we have all been working for a capitalist and we are looking forward to retiring. What solution have we brought to the world, or our communities? Nothing. To be frank, Africa’s children need to poke the bubble of false consciousness sooner and help Africa be the place to be.

We need to start paying attention to what matters! That which is beyond just us…