Local human rights advocacy group, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Monitors Platform (ZHRMP) has bemoaned the increased human rights violations targeted at tertiary students in the country.
In a report titled Zimbabwe Students Situation Report (2022), ZHRMP said the unjustified fees increase at various institution of learning had forced many students to abandon their studies.
“The right to education in 2022 has been denied through the imposition of high tuition fees. At the University of Zimbabwe, tuition fees increased from $50 000 to north of $500 000. At Great Zimbabwe it went from $57 000 to $363 000 and this has been the trend in over 10 state universities across the country. The hike in fees risks forcing many students to abandon their studies thus potentially violating their right to education.
“The rights of women and girls remained contested and controversial in Zimbabwe. The role they might play in governance and political participation was inadvertently overlooked. Not only were their political rights denied/overlooked, their fundamental right to be a human with dignity and equality of rights was undermined. Just over 75% of the students arrested in September and October 2022 alone were young women. 0% of students are members of parliament,” said ZHRMP.
The pressure group said state capture had compromised the magistrate courts and this has a negative bearing upon student activist/ leaders.
“The law in Zimbabwe stipulates that Judges and Magistrates must, in carrying out their duties, act in an independent and impartial manner. This principle in law is meant to protect the right to a fair trial. However, this right seems to be blurred out by the over-influence of the executive and other politically influential individuals. What this has done for students arrested on status quo issues is that they are now ‘presumed guilty until proven innocent’ a total reversal of fundamental principles of a fair trial,” said the group.
ZHRMP among other issues recommended the legal reform to ensure the college legislations align with the constitution especially the UZ ordinance 30 and the creation of a student human right working group between the Human rights institution and students’ unions especially ZHRC (Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission), ZGC (Zimbabwe Gender Commission) to protect and promote academic freedoms.
The group said Parliament must play its oversight role in ensuring that repressive laws or unconstitutional frameworks are repealed and urged CSOs to come together and actively give solidarity and support to students.