Police water cannon protesting Nust students

BULAWAYO - Hundreds of National University of Science and Technology (Nust) students staged a protest at the university campus yesterday to protest against failure by lecturers to pitch up for duty over the past four weeks.

Police fired teargas and used water cannons to disperse hundreds of students who braved the cold and rainy weather and barricaded Gwanda-Beitbridge Road.

Cars, buses and haulage trucks were turned away and forced to make a U-turn.

When Nust  pro-vice chancellor Samson Sibanda  drove past the crowd, the students started chanting songs, while kicking and hitting his car with sticks.

He beat a hasty retreat wearing a gloomy face.

The Nust university council chairperson, ambassador Zenzo Nsimbi, also came through and the students surrounded him, demanding an explanation.

The furious students were chanting, “Into oyenzayo siyayizonda (we do not like what you are doing)” and “hatidi kupihwa order nema saskamu (we don’t want mad people telling us what to do).”

“I want to assure you that I have come here with one thing in mind, specifically to sort this strike issue and my intention is by end of today (yesterday), this strike will be over, students should go back to their classes,” Nsimbi said.

As he spoke, students started shouting that the university must bring back the lecturers, demanding their monies back and booing him.

When his chauffeur driven car took off, some students clung onto his car. One of the students got injured in the melee and was rushed to hospital.

When a Nyaradzo Funeral Services hearse drove-by carrying a coffin, the students blocked it and started chanting a common funeral song “mutendi muka, mukaiwe, tibate basa.”

Riot police arrived six hours after protests erupted, but students sat on the road and refused to leave.

Police then used water cannons to disperse the protesting students.

Pablo Tinashe Chimusoro, the Nust Student Representative Council (SRC) president told the Daily News: “What is happening is that for more than three weeks, students have not been learning, lecturers have not been reporting for duty, so this is why students are now protesting.

“We are sure that the stakeholders of the university have seen the frustration that the students have and if they do not respond to this, then we know that they do not care about the institution.

“Education is important for the students. All we want is education, these people are the future of Zimbabwe and if we sabotage their future, what we are simply doing is sabotaging the future of Zimbabwe,” he said.

A second year journalism student who spoke to this paper said Nust was wasting their money

“I come from Harare and I have been paying $120 rent, it’s almost a month without having lectures.

“There are food costs, there is money being used and it’s not fair,” she said.

Lesley Maniwa, an SRC member, claimed 75 students had been arrested and taken to the Central Police Station. This could not be independently verified with the police.

Nust lecturers have been on strike for more than three weeks protesting alleged mismanagement of resources at the institution.

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