By Nomalanga Moyo
Dozens of Zimbabwean students enrolled at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology on a Robert Mugabe scholarship have been barred from lectures and thrown out of residential halls, because the government has not paid.
More than 100 Zim students, including those in their final year, have reportedly been affected, with most of them reduced to begging friends for their upkeep.
One of the affected students told SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme that students’ fees were already in arrears as the government failed to release last term’s grants to enable them to pay.
“The students have tried to contact Minister Christopher Mushowe, who is also the Presidential Fund director, but were told he was on holiday,” Saungweme said.
The student told Saungweme that they have not contacted the Zim Embassy in South Africa for fear of being victimised by the country’s dreaded central intelligence operatives.
“There is fear amongst the students that government officials may think they are complaining by approaching the embassy for help and victimise them as a result.
“But the plight of the students does not speak well of the government and President Mugabe should be ashamed to be associated with such a poorly-run scheme,” Saungweme added.
The Presidential Scholarship Fund is supposed to pay for tuition, accommodation and other needs of students from underprivileged backgrounds.
But over the years, students whose families have established links to ZANU PF, have tended to benefit at the expense of deserving cases.
Zimbabwe has an estimated 7,000 students enrolled at various South African universities under the presidential scheme.
Most of the students on Mugabe’s scheme have at some point been left stranded due to non-payment of grants, exposing them to abuse and risky behaviour such as prostitution and stealing.
Last year Fort Hare University was said to be owed more than R40 million in unpaid student fees by the broke Zimbabwe government.
President Mugabe and his party ZANU PF regularly portray the scheme as a success story and proof of their commitment to elevating educational standards.
Observers however say the country’s educational system will be better served if the government invested in its own collapsing institutions and paid for these students to study locally. SW Radio Africa