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/