JOHANNESBURG – Protesting students outside the University of Fort Hare tried to force their way into the hall where President Robert Mugabe and President Jacob Zuma spoke at centenary celebrations yesterday.
Police used water cannons to disperse the crowd.
Over a hundred students marched to the sports complex where the institution’s centenary celebrations took place.
Singing Asinamali (we don’t have money) and holding placards reading “Centenary my a**”, students disrupted proceedings. Mugabe arrived at the celebrations walking hand in hand with Zuma.
“If it means we fight till the end of the year, we will fight. What are they celebrating when we are hungry? Voetsek Zuma, voetsek Mugabe,” one student said.
The students claimed that university management had not met all of their demands.
One of the demands was that students who did not live in residences on campus should receive allowances for accommodation and transport before the end of the first semester.
Mugabe later told the students that it was as a student at the University of Fort Hare that he first became aware of the evils of colonialism and the need to fight against it.
He also again warned against countries thinking they can run “our affairs”, vowing that a regime change in Zimbabwe will “never come”.
Sharing stories of his time at the institution at its centenary celebrations, he said he discovered his African identity during his time at Fort Hare in the early 1950s.
“It was during my days at this university that I became aware of the evils of colonialism… this galvanised our commitment to fight against all forms of oppression,” he said.
“I personally regard this institution as the cradle of anti-colonialism. Here, I was academically born. Here I was transformed and here I discovered my African identity and African personality.”
Mugabe spoke of a time when he and several other student activists boycotted a scheduled event to honour an apartheid government governor.
“While we were having supper, (late activist and politician) Joe Matthews whispered in our ears that who is coming is the embodiment of apartheid… we said let’s boycott because he was carrying in his mind and body apartheid,” he told the crowd.
He said Africans were still trying to continue to prove they can run their own affairs.
“You get countries like France that think they can run our affairs. America has been quite open, they say they can change regimes and in Zimbabwe they say they will change. I say never.
“That is why I am still here, because regime change will never come,” he said.