Zim university summons students over anti-Mugabe graduation protest

UNIVERSITY of Zimbabwe (UZ) authorities have summoned three students to attend a disciplinary hearing for breaching the state-run university rules after they allegedly staged a protest against President Robert Mugabe during the institution’s graduation ceremony held last month.

univesity-student-protests-at-graduation-ceremony-yesterdayThe students Tonderai Dombo, Thembinkosi Rushwaya and Alexander Mukamba were arrested on Thursday 29 September 2016 by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers and charged with criminal nuisance as defined in Section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 after they allegedly protested against President Mugabe during a UZ graduation ceremony presided over by the nonagenarian leader, who is the UZ Chancellor, where he capped several students late last month.

The students held placards with messages complaining about the failure by President Mugabe’s government to create jobs and employment opportunities for graduates in the country.

The students who were detained at Harare Central Police Station and were represented by Gift Mtisi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) were released after electing to pay an admission of guilty fine amounting to $10.

Almost a month later, the trio is set to appear before the UZ’s student disciplinary committee facing charges of breaching rules of student conduct and discipline commonly referred to as Ordinance 30.

According to letters served on the students, the UZ authorities claim that Dombo, Rushwaya and Mukamba, who are all represented by ZLHR lawyer Denford Halimani, sought to disrupt the 2016 graduation ceremony, which was an official UZ function held at the university’s Pavillion grounds.

The UZ authorities charged that the trio had no right to do so and that their conduct was in breach of sections of Ordinance 30 more particularly that no student of the university shall engage in any conduct whether on or off campus which is or is reasonably likely to be harmful to the interests of the university, members of the university staff or students.

In another matter, the UZ authorities have also summoned two students Tinotenda Mhungu and Hlalanilathi Khosa, who are represented by Jeremiah Bamu of ZLHR, to appear before the student disciplinary committee to answer to charges of breaching the university’s rules after they allegedly participated in an anti-government protest held on 24 August in central Harare, which they claim to have been an illegal demonstration. The duo was arrested together with 11 other Harare residents by ZRP officers and charged with committing public violence.

The alleged participation of Mhungu and Khosa in the anti-government protest, the UZ authorities charged, was harmful to the interest of the university, its staff members and students.

However, of interest is the UZ authorities’ decision to subject the students to a disciplinary hearing even though their matter on charges of committing public violence is still pending at the Harare Magistrates Court.

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