The permanent secretary in the Higher and Tertiary ministry, Fanuel Tagwira, has begged university students to shun planned demonstrations over fee hikes saying a reduction of fees will cripple learning institutions.
Tagwira said the fee hikes have since been rendered a nonevent by soaring inflation to the extent that they only cover about 70 per cent of institutions’ expenses. He said:
If institutions decrease fees, the reality is that there will be no quality education to talk of. Already, since the fee hikes, there has been inflation and the fees they are paying now can only cover at least 70% of the institutions’ expenses.
Tagwira added that the government understands their plight but there needs to be a consideration of how the fees came to be.
Tagwira’s remarks come as ZINASU together with teachers and nurses has called for a national shutdown next Monday in a “fees must fall” protest and against the skyrocketing cost of living.
Teachers and nurses say they are failing to make ends meet, with their salaries having been battered by inflation while university students say new tuition fees are unaffordable.
Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) national spokesperson Lenon Mazuru said they wanted to register their discontent at the current state of affairs in the country by calling for a national shutdown. Mazuru said:
We are calling and inviting all other unions to support us on May 9. We need the government to address us and we need the crisis to end. This thing is way beyond ‘fees must fall’, hence everyone must take part. Every university, college, we are going to shut them down.
Tagwira says ZINASU has a political agenda.
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) and Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union (ZPNU) pledged full support for the shutdown, and urged their members to withdraw their services on the day.
In the past, the government has responded to protests by shutting down social media platforms, and deploying troops.
Yesterday, Health Services Board (HSB) chairperson Paulinus Sikhosana said he was not aware that nurses were planning to join the protests.
More: NewsDay Zimbabwe