Students blast inclusive government

HARARE - The Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) yesterday blasted President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s “inclusive” government for worsening the plight of students.

Scores of students from poor families relying on state support have been forced out of universities because the government continues defaulting on payments under the cadetship scheme.

Zinasu president Pride Mkono denounced the government as “one of the most irresponsible administrations in the world” whose priorities were misplaced.

The fiery student president said it was shocking that government failed to pay fees for tertiary education students at a time it was acquiring top of the range vehicles for ministers, jet-setting with monolithic delegations and paying hefty backdated allowances to parliamentarians.

“This move by the government can be likened to a father who buys expensive cars for himself and makes many costly foreign trips but fails to pay school fees for his children,” Mkono said.

Tertiary institutions across the country have been turning away students on the cadetship scheme, a government grant that pays for three quarters of college and university fees.

Finance minister Tendai Biti this week warned universities against chucking out students from classes.

Students on the cadetship scheme at the University of Zimbabwe, for instance, have been turned away with authorities saying they will only be allowed back if government pays up.

The ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education claims this whole fiasco is taking place because Biti is not releasing money on time, an allegation the Finance minister strenuously rejected.

Mkono said the squabbling between ministries over the cadetship funds was an example of how the fragile coalition government had become dysfunctional.

“Zinasu demands that money be availed to sustain the cadetship scheme for the remainder of this year with immediate effect and that the ministries of Finance and Higher and Tertiary Education issue out official ministerial directives commanding tertiary institutions not to turn away students until the government is able to pay up. As for next year, students expect the government to provide grants and loans.”

Government will need over $100million for implementation of the grant and loan scheme.

In the 2011 and 2012 budgets, the finance minister allocated money for grants and loans but they never released the actual cash.

“Zinasu is warning the government in general and the ministries of finance and higher and tertiary education in particular that this time around students will not be taken for a ride,” Mkono said.

“If the government fails to provide grants and loans in 2013, students will be left with no choice but to take to the streets.”

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