HARARE – Tertiary education students in Zimbabwe have set up a new students’ union to rival the Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) and Zimbabwe Congress of Students’ Union (Zicosu), which they say are linked to political parties.
The new union, going by the name Students Voice, was registered last month with the Zimbabwe Youth Council.
Already it has taken the students representative council (SRC) at the Women’s University in Africa.
“The call to have this union came to fill in the gap that was being left with existing unions. They had abandoned the duty to represent students at large and have failed to articulate issues affecting students but instead are being abused by political parties to forward some political agendas,” the union’s national spokesperson Hillary Mugari said.
Zinasu and Zicosu have been accused of affiliating themselves with the MDC and Zanu PF, respectively.
“This left an average student who is not into politics clueless and without representation.”
Mugari told the Daily News that politicians are using unions to prop up their campaigns at the expense of students’ issues.
“There is need to restore confidence in the ability of SRCs to represent the students’ needs, and a union that can engage the government through the ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education or Parliament to address the issues raised by students. We want to represent all students on a non-partisan basis,” he said.
Mugari said unlike other students’ representative bodies that are seemingly biased towards universities, Students Voice is “concerned with all tertiary institutions from universities, colleges and vocational training centres. Our national president is from a college and on gender we believe in equal representation”.
“We have recorded achievement in the first two weeks of our registration. We ran for the SRC at Women University and . . . we lost only two positions with our candidates being first runners. We also ran at Hillside in Bulawayo and took half the posts.”
Among the issues that students are currently battling with are high tuition fees, unilateral suspensions as well as lack of conducive accommodation.