Tag Archives: Politics

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.































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.



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.

Talk of Unification of Rival Student Unions

By Francis Mukora

News in recent weeks of the signing of memorandums of understanding (MOUs) between the major opposition political parties in Zimbabwe to form a coalition which will see them fielding one candidate to battle the ruling ZANU PF party candidate President Robert Mugabe in the 2018 elections precipitated questions pertaining to whether a similar arrangement can be made within the student body politic whereby the two largest student unions, Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) and Zimbabwe College Students Union (ZICOSU) would agree to a similar arrangement of morphing into a body pursuing the collective goal of improving the welfare of students at Zimbabwe’s tertiary institutions.

I think it will be a good move because it will ensure that student issues, which are their core mandate, become central to student politics while relegating national politics to the periphery,” said former ZINASU president Clever Bere.

Since the turn of the millennium, various critics had pointed out that student activism had lost vibrancy and effectiveness after becoming engrossed in national politics.

They (students unions) are so much politically aligned, such that they have ceased to represent the wishes of the students but their political masters,” noted Themba Mliswa who is a Zimbabwean legislator and founder of a youth organization called Youth Advocacy for Reform and Democracy (YARD).

A year ago, his organization, YARD had taken the initiative for such a coalition as in April 2016 Mliswa Sought to Unite Students by facilitating the unification of the two rival bodies into a single union primarily seeking to serve students interests.

Both unions were reportedly warming up to the idea as then ZICOSU interim president Howard Madya declared that, “We no longer want to report to CIOs or ZANU PF or MDC and we no longer want to be controlled by any political party or politician who wants to advance their political agendas.”

The initiative seemed to excite even the ordinary students like Busi Ncube, a final year student at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) who said that such a move would show unity of purpose among their leaders and will motivate most students to take them more seriously.

However, more than a year later, nothing concrete has materialized giving credence to doomsayers who had initially dismissed such an idea as a pipedream given the allegiance of ZINASU and ZICOSU to bitter political rival, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and ZANU PF respectively.

As long as the two student unions continue to take instructions from Harvest House and Shake Shake building, such a coalition will remain nothing more than a dream,” said political analyst and former ZINASU spokesperson, Blessing Vava.

Maybe the outcome of the 2018 elections will help to shape the future of such an envisaged coalition of ZINASU and ZICOSU because if the opposition parties coalition triumphs against ZANU PF, the students unions will be motivated to adopt the similar approach in search of victory for student activism. However, if the coalition fails, there will be no motivation for such unification.


Midlands State University (MSU) suspended three students  activists who wrote an ultimatum to the university authorities demanding answers following the university’s failure to protect students from allegedly assault by soldiers late March this year.

By Costa Nkomo

Soldiers were reported to have descended at MSU campus and went on rampage randomly assaulting students in what was reported as a revenge mission when one of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) was assaulted by a group of students as a result of misunderstanding over a Gweru city woman. https://www.newsday.co.zw/2017/03/28/soldiers-rampage-msu/.

It has been more than a month since the students were issued with suspension letters. These   include Munyaradzi Rwushwaya Chuma, Archbold Madida and Ashlegh Pfunye. The three are accused of generating and circulating subversive material via social media platforms.  

When called for disciplinary hearing on the 20th of April, the trio were accompanied by Human Rights Lawyers team led by Advocate Lizwe Jamela. In defence of the trio, Advocate Jamela cited the national constitution section 59 and 61 that when read together permit the accused to demonstrate, petition and freely express themselves.

“They failed to charge us since the charges they were levelling against us were a direct violation of the section 59 and 61 of the constitution of Zimbabwe according to advocate Jamela” said Rushwaya.

The trio appeared in a in a second disciplinary hearing on Monday and the university for the second time is alleged to have failed to settle the case.  It, emerged that the MSU legal proctor was not fully prepared for the case subsequently leading to the matter being moved to 24 April (yesterday).  

“They mentioned that they were not aware of these legalities in defence” added Rushwaya. “So they said they want time to go and prepare the case”.

Meanwhile, University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Student Representative Council (SRC) President, Tinomutenda Mhungu implored student leadership from all universities in Zimbabwe to stand behind Rwushaya and company during  trial.

“As the process reaches a tipping point today, we reach out to the MSU, Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT), National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Bindura University of Science (BUSE), Africa University (AU) and Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) communities to have these revolutionaries in their prayers as an injustice to one is an injustice to all” said Mhungu.

MSU student leadership including their ring leader, Jorum Mukono, is being accused of playing second fiddle to the administration, dumping students who elected them in the previous election.  

“The SRC here at MSU is dysfunctional, it’s as good as nothing” said a student who requested anonymity. “The way they are quite about our plight persuades us to dissolve the whole SRC so that we live without it”.

Efforts to get the MSU SRC president Mr Mukono were fruitless as his mobile failed to get through. No comment was obtained  from university authorities as there was no response when contacted.

Instilling fear has been the customary subterfuge university authorities employ to silence  dissenting student voices. Zimbabwean universities have a shared tendency of issuing suspension letters to students who actively participate in politics. (See) http://thezimbabwean.co/2007/11/three-more-student-leaders-suspended-at-nust/


By Francis Mukora

“… there is no need for me to participate in politics and elections as I know that my views and sentiments as a youth will always be ignored and nothing will change.”

In mid-2018, global attention will once again return to Zimbabwe as it holds what already promises to be a thrilling electoral battle pitting the ruling ZANU PF party and a coalition of the country’s major opposition parties. With about eighteen months before the elections, various subplots have already begun unfolding to spicy up what is being touted as a historic election. The major opposition parties, namely the Morgan Tsvangirai led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), the Welshman Ncube led MDC and the National Democratic Party (NDP) led by former Vice President Joyce Mujuru have already agreed to field and support one candidate to challenge incumbent President Robert Mugabe who will represent ZANU PF.

While these subplots are unraveling, Zimbabwean youths, among them students at various tertiary education institutions, including the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), are having mixed feelings about the impending elections. While others are excited and see the polls as an opportunity for the beginning of a promising future, others prophesizing doom, arguing the elections will not change Zimbabwe’s gloomy situation. It is such contradictory perceptions that have resulted in high levels of political apathy amongst the youths who constitute more than 75% of the population, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) 2012 census results. Statistical analysis of the voters’ roll by the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) in 2012 revealed that despite constituting about 41% of eligible voters, youths constituted a measly 14% of the voters who were registered prior to the 2013 elections.

The reasons youth apathy range from mere absence of interest to lack of trust in the political processes’ capacity to bring tangible transformation to their lives. Edwin Mapuranga, a final year journalism student at NUST said he is not motivated to participate in political processes because he does not believe them improve his situation as a youth.

Most politicians are selfish and are only bent on fattening their pockets instead of improving the welfare of those who vote for them,” said Mapuranga. “Because of all this, there is no need for me to participate in politics and elections as I know that my views and sentiments as a youth will always be ignored and nothing will change.”

Another NUST student Andrew Mandevhana echoed similar views arguing that voting will only create employement for others and not him. “Why should I vote to give someone else a job when I myself will remain unemployed,” asked Mandevhana. “With my graduation coming up later this year, I am more worried about getting a job than registering to vote because even those who voted after being promised 2 million jobs in 2013 are still unemployed.”

However, to counter youth apathy in political processes, civil society and youths organizations around Zimbabwe have rolled out aggressive voter mobilization programs targeting youths as the 2018 elections draw closer. Zimbabwe Organization for the Youth in Politics (ZOYP), a youth organization for political participation is already offering capacity building support to youths who intend to contest in the 2018 elections. “Our goal is to provide support to youths with enthusiasm and potential to contest in the 2018 elections regardless of the political party they belong to,” said Jasper Maphosa, Programs Officer at ZOYP.

Another youth organization called Organizing for Zimbabwe Trust said it is working with community based organizations including student bodies such as the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) to capacitate them to mobilize their constituencies to register as voter when the process begins and to vote from an issue based and informed perspective when the Zimbabweans go for the polls next year.

In fact we have been engaging ZINASU and as a key player in Zimbabwe politics,” said Terrence Chitapi, Organizing for Zimbabwe Director. “They are keen to influence the direction of the upcoming elections and their position is that given the influential role that they have played in opposition politics, particularly in the formation of the MDC, they want a quota of the parliamentary seats within the opposition coalition to be reserved for former student leaders with proven political acumen”.

Chitapi also added that the students’ mother body also believes that mobilization of student voters should be an internal, peer to peer process led by ZINASU with outsiders’ role being limited to capacity strengthening.

Whatever happens from now onwards, the young people remain a key population section and whoever secures the youth vote will have an easy trip to State House and Parliament Building after the 2018 polls. The onus is now on the political parties to tap into this key constituency.


By Francis Mukora

“The situation has changed significantly in this age as systematic arrests, suspensions and expulsions send a discouraging message to students while their expelled leaders then find it very difficult to organise and coordinate from outside campuses.”

Student activism used to be a vibrant pressure group which could influence socio-economic and political dynamics at almost all levels of the Zimbabwean society. However, over the past decade, students voice in key national processes has been fading and nowadays, the once popular “Ahoy Union” chant is no longer inspiring to students at most tertiary institutions, including the National University of Science and Technology (NUST).

Various theories have been suggested in attempts to explain the declining fortunes of student activism in Zimbabwe. The first perspective analyses the dwindling vibrancy of student activism within the national political context. This perspective argues that the birth of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), arguably the most popular opposition party in the post-independence era, in the late 1990s marked the beginning of the slow death of student activism in Zimbabwe. This perspective argues that the MDC took over the space of student activism as the most influential pressure group in the country. From this stage onwards, the argument goes; student activism was assimilated into opposition politics to a point where the two seemed to be one and most student leaders went into the structures of the opposition party. This created divisions amongst the membership and leadership of students unions to a point where some students decided to be apathetic and thus student activism was severely crippled. Thus the dwindling fortunes of the opposition MDC also began to be mirrored by a corresponding decline in student activism exuberance.

Another theory argues that the socio-economic malaise that has been afflicting the country since the late 1990s has had a debilitating effect on student activism. This theory argues that with economically parents now bearing full responsibility for fees payment and the entire upkeep of their children since government stopped the students grants system around 2006, the students themselves now feel indebted to stay away from “troubles” such as student activism which would put their parents’ investments to waste if they were to be suspended or expelled. In the long run, this has weakened student activism and as they no longer have a robust voice to effectively engage authorities at both institutional and national levels for solutions their concerns.

Former NUST Students Representative Council (SRC) and Zimbabwe National Association of Students Union (ZINASU) president, Clever Bere thinks that there has been a change in conditions over the past two decades which has also significantly affected student activism in Zimbabwe.

Back then, the democratic space was a bit open and student leaders found it easier to organize”, said Bere. “The situation has changed significantly in this age as systematic arrests, suspensions and expulsions send a discouraging message to students while their expelled leaders then find it very difficult to organise and coordinate from outside campuses.”

However, a different perspective argues that contemporary student activism has shifted from the confrontational tactics which made it popular in the previous years to non-confrontational engagement with authorities and this shift in approach is being confused as disfunctionality. Whether this is true or false remains a subject of debate, but what remains indisputable is the fact that the chant “Ahoy macomrades” can no longer galvanize students in the manner that it did say at the turn of the millennium.