South Africa’s opposition urges universities to reject ZANU-PF students
By Tererai Karimakwenda
09 January, 2008
South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has expressed deep concern over a recent decision by Rhodes University to enrol 60 Zimbabwean students who are closely related to top ruling party and government officials of the Mugabe regime. MP Joe Seremane, the DA spokesperson on Africa, said the University and others in that country should reject students whose parents are responsible for the disastrous educational situation back in Zimbabwe. Seremane said this view is not out of malice, but out of the desire to make the ZANU-PF government in Zimbabwe realise that this is a serious matter.
Schools in Zimbabwe have inadequate resources and are understaffed. Students are being harassed, arrested or dismissed when they express their concerns. Last year the halls of residence at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare were closed and students were given less than an hour to pack and leave. Seremane said he is aware that many ordinary students were roaming the streets.
The opposition MP told newsreel the Zimbabwe government should fix its own educational system, instead of the elite sending their children to schools outside – a luxury denied ordinary Zimbabweans. He believes an alternative could be for the government to make arrangements with South Africa for a specific number of students to be admitted each year. The South African schools could then check credentials to make sure the children are not just those of senior officials.
In view of the crisis facing ordinary Zimbabwean students, the DA released a statement Wednesday which said in part:
“The DA calls upon Rhodes University and other South African universities to reject enrolments for Zimbabwean students related to ZANU-PF and the government as part of efforts to motivate ZANU-PF leaders to reconsider their country’s current political situation and the urgency to resolve the political meltdown that has triggered Zimbabwe.”
“This is another opportunity for South Africa to showcase its disapproval of the calamitous political situation in Zimbabwe by holding ZANU-PF leaders accountable for their actions.”
Other countries have taken the lead on this issue, particularly Australia, which deported the children of Mugabe cronies last year. The United States is considering similar action as Zimbabwean activists continue the campaign around the world.