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High Court nullifies suspension of Gweru Polytechnic ‘protest’ leader

By Mashudu Netsianda

The High Court has nullified the suspension of a Gweru Polytechnic student who had been barred from attending lessons for allegedly inciting other students to protest over “exorbitant and substandard” hostel meals.

Gweru Polytechnic
Gweru Polytechnic

Panashe Mudzingwa (21), who is in his final year of studying towards a diploma in information technology, was suspended indefinitely last year in November from attending lectures pending a disciplinary hearing on allegations of misconduct.

The ruling by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva follows an urgent chamber application by Mudzingwa through his lawyers, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, challenging his suspension.

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In papers before the court, Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister, Professor Amon Murwira, Gweru Polytechnic principal Mr Washington Chandiwana and the college’s head of division for student affairs, one Mrs J Nzvenga, were cited as respondents.

Mudzingwa, who is a member of the students’ food committee, said his suspension was some form of punishment for being the most vocal during a meeting on issues affecting them.

He said he was shocked when he received a letter from Mr Chandiwana on the following day notifying him of the suspension.

Justice Takuva ruled that the suspension was unjustified and a violation of Mudzingwa’s constitutional right to freedom of expression.

“Pending confirmation and discharge of this provisional order, it is ordered that the applicant (Mudzingwa) be and hereby immediately reinstated at Gweru Polytechnic as a student with full entitlements and benefits ascribed to a student, which includes attending lessons. Prosecution thereof be and hereby stayed,” ruled the judge.

Mudzingwa is alleged to have incited other students to demonstrate at the hostels over “expensive and substandard” meals. He was barred from attending classes and accessing college premises pending the disciplinary hearing.

Mudzingwa argued that his suspension had no legal basis. The Chronicle