Zimbabwe. Crackdown hits students protesting tuition hikes at the University of Zimbabwe: five others were arrested on September 14

Authorities must drop lurid charges against University of Zimbabwe students peacefully protesting tuition hikes and uphold their rights to freedom of assembly and expression, Amnesty International has said. September 15, 2022.

What a travesty of justice: these students are being taken to detention and into courtrooms simply for asking for an affordable education

Lucia Masuka, Director of Amnesty International Zimbabwe

Police arrested 14 University of Zimbabwe students on September 12 after they staged a peaceful protest under the slogan #FeesMustFall, against the sharp rise in university tuition fees. While five other students were arrested on September 14 and taken to Avondale Police Station for “disturbing the peace”, some of those arrested on the 12th appeared in court on September 14.

“What a travesty of justice: these students are being taken to detention and into courtrooms simply for asking for an affordable education and the ability to stay in class. Their arrest while demonstrating peacefully constitutes a violation of their right to demonstrate. The authorities must respect this right and drop all charges against them,” said Lucia Masuka, Director of Amnesty International Zimbabwe.

“Considering these arrests to be arbitrary, we call on the Zimbabwe Republic Police to respect the freedom to file petitions and the freedom to demonstrate which are guaranteed by the Constitution. »

The university recently announced a staggering increase in tuition fees of up to 1,000%, forcing undergraduate students to pay between 50,000 Zimbabwean dollars (140 euros) and 500,000 Zimbabwean dollars (1,400 euros), depending on their ability. The students said the hike was unaffordable and beyond the reach of their parents and guardians, and vowed to boycott classes until the university reversed its decision.

Authorities must respect students’ right to protest and drop all charges against them

Lucia Masuka

Of the 14 students, 12 were released on the evening of September 13 after each paying a fine of 2,000 Zimbabwean dollars (5.50 euros). The others appeared in court on September 14 and were released on bail. They are called again on September 29. The students are represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers Association for Human Rights (ZLHR).

Additional information

The 14 students arrested on September 12 were taken to Avondale Police Station and charged with disturbing the peace. They are Thelma Nzero, Mufaro Vhutuza, Owen Mashaya, Tinashe Zana, Tinotenda Mwenje, Fletcher Katehwe, Havana Mtetwa, Natasha Dhliwayo, Ropafadzo Mutangadura, Fatima Ajida, Tsungai Chitodha, Beyond Wendy Siwela, David Musasa and Godknows Zabhura.

The five other students arrested on September 14 are Tivimba Musengi, Tinotenda Mangana, Hazel Gwande, Tanyaradzwa Nzvimbo and Charles Moyo.

Movement #FeesMustFall kicked off at the University of Zimbabwe on September 12 to denounce soaring university tuition fees. For undergraduate and postgraduate studies, these fees have increased by up to 1000%, which is staggering. Under the new grid, undergraduate students must pay between 50,000 Zimbabwean dollars (140 euros) and 500,000 Zimbabwean dollars (1,400 euros), depending on their faculty. As for master’s students, they will have to pay up to 1 million Zimbabwean dollars (2,770 euros).

Accommodation costs have also increased, from 71,000 Zimbabwean dollars, or approximately 200 euros, to 617 euros or the equivalent in local currency for the semester from August to December.

This spike in fees risks forcing many students to drop out of school, potentially violating their right to education.

Zimbabwe. Crackdown hits students protesting tuition hikes at the University of Zimbabwe: five others were arrested on September 14