Students send out SOS messages over missing leader

By Lance Guma
21 May 2007

The whereabouts of University of Zimbabwe student leader Tineyi Mukwewa who was arrested last week has generated immense concern in the student movement. On Friday the Zimbabwe National Students Union issued an appeal for information from anyone who might know where Mukwewa is. Lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights have also been unable to locate him following searches done at Avondale and Harare Central Police stations. Zwelithini Viki, an Information Officer with the university student’s representative council, told Newsreel on Monday that the search for their President was still on. ZINASU has sent out thousands of alerts on their e-mail list, requesting information from members of the public.

Mukwewa was arrested and detained last week Wednesday by UZ security guards. He was also served with a suspension letter that was also handed out to 8 other students including Terence Chimhavi, who was expelled. The authorities accused them of masterminding a demonstration that rocked the campus, following the disruption of a campaign rally for aspiring student leaders by UZ security guards. Riot police descended on the campus to help crush the demonstration. The majority of students suspended were candidates in the polls. Meanwhile two student leaders abducted at the Bindura University of Science Education on Thursday were later found the following day at Bindura police station. Moreblessing Mabhunu and Tinashe Madamombe were released 3 days later on Sunday outside normal police charge office working hours. No charges were made and Viki said this probably explained the decision to release them on a Sunday.

The impasse between government and students over deteriorating conditions of learning and tuition fees, which were hiked last year, is set to worsen. In an article carried by the state owned Sunday Mail, government confirmed plans to introduce a bonding system for university and college graduates. Students educated through government loans and grants will be compelled to join the civil service before being allowed to work in the private sector or to emigrate. Authorities want to introduce the system in all the ministries and departments that are facing critical manpower shortages. The students however argue that because they ultimately pay back government loans that fund their education, the same government cannot bond them over money they will payback anyhow. The country is suffering a massive brain drain as people flee a worsening economic and political crisis.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news