By Esinathy Sibanda
Ten National University of Science and Technology (Nust) students in Bulawayo were arrested after their protest over buses threatened to turn ugly.
Students have, for a long time, been at loggerheads with the institution’s administration accusing them of mismanagement of buses.
The university buses ferry staff members to and from the city centre and students are not allowed on them.
The protestors said the buses were bought using students’ funds.
More than 60 students staged a demonstration on Monday, chanting and holding placards that articulated why they want the bus.
Some of the students jumped into one the buses and tried to prevent staff members from using it, a student said. “After failing to dislodge the students, the driver drove the bus to Central Police Station and 10 students who failed to get off were arrested,” said a student.
They were kept in the holding cells for about three hours.
The Zimbabwe National Students Association Nust president Denis Mwashita said they staged the demonstration because they were tired of watching students’ resources being abused by the administration.
“The reason why we decided to demonstrate is because we want our buses to be used appropriately. We can’t be using public transport whilst the university buys buses using our money, to ferry its staff members,” he said. “We pay the bus levy every semester but we are not allowed to use it. The library is located in the city centre but the students pay for public transport to go there. Why can’t they schedule the trips so that we can also use the bus, to and from the campus?”
Mwashita said the student representative committees have sought redress for this issue but the university never responded. He said it was time for student activists to unite and demand appropriate use of resources that are meant for students.
Mwashita said the protest was peaceful but they were taken to a police station without a proper reason.
“To our surprise, the institution decided to get us arrested. We were detained at Bulawayo’s Central Police station for more than two hours. Our lawyer, Advocate Tinashe Runganga negotiated for our release since the police had not yet charged us with anything.”
Contacted for comment, Nust Information and Public Relations officer Mrs Lindiwe Nyoni said the matter had been resolved. “Internal processes are underway and the administration is looking into the matter. It is not only the bus problem being taken care of but other students’ welfare issues,’’ she said.
“The vice chancellor called for a meeting with the students two weeks ago and addressed the students’ welfare issues, promising to prioritise them.”
This is not the first time Nust students have been arrested for staging a demonstration this year.
In February more than fifty were arrested for shutting down the main campus in protest over the administration’s failure to resolve their lecturers’ month-long strike over poor working conditions. Efforts to get police comment were fruitless. The Chronicle