MSU Summoned To Court: Accused Of Unfair Treatment of Students

MSU Summoned To Court: Accused Of Unfair Treatment of Students
Published: 2016 May 20 04:55:26 (2164 Views)

Students Suspended For Protesting Against Bad Living Conditions:



Three Midlands State University (MSU) students have taken the institution to court challenging a decision to suspend them for allegedly mobilising other students to stage a protest over poor living conditions at the Zvishavane campus.

Fanele Maqele, a final year politics and public management student, Aldrin Nyabando and Tendai Warambwa, who are both second year students majoring in development studies, yesterday filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court citing the Vice Chancellor, Professor Ngwabi Bhebhe and the MSU as the respondents.

The trio was served with suspension letters on April 11, 2016.

The letters stated that the three students breached Ordinance No.2 of 2000 when they allegedly posted a message on WhatsApp urging other students to go on an illegal demonstration.

The three were suspended from the university pending their appearance before a disciplinary committee and also barred from visiting the campus without the Vice-Chancellor’s permission.

They are set to miss their end of semester examinations which start today.

According to court papers, the trio allegedly posted on WhatsApp that they had organised a massive protest in Zvishavane soon after the start of the new semester.

Part of the message read: “Those who go against the Zvishavane relocation it’s now time to air your views through a protest…we have organised a massive protest due to several reasons which include poor living conditions both on campus residence and in accommodation provided in the vicinity. United we stand divided we fall…”

According to the message purportedly authored by the three applicants, they also cited the existence of illegal gold panners who are said to be posing a risk of spreading HIV and Aids among students. They also cited high temperatures, shortage of water and electricity.

The trio, through its lawyers, Chitere, Chidawanyika and Partners, seeks an order to cancel the university’s decision to bar them from visiting the campus. They also want to be allowed to sit for their end of semester examinations after distancing themselves from the message.

Maqele, in his founding affidavit, argued that the original author of the message, which started circulating in February, was not known.

“The message started circulating on WhatsApp on February 17, 2016 and having seen it, we forwarded it to our friends in the manner we received it, all in pursuit of our right to freedom of expression as enshrined in the country’s constitution. Eventually the message got to the authorities who, after failing to determine the original author, then handpicked the three of us, questioned us and made us to write a report,” said Maqele.

He argued that the message did not agitate for any form of violence or threaten any disruption of any activities at the university.

Maqele said the suspension letters were vague and open ended as they did not indicate the day of the hearing. The students have not been attending lectures since April 22.

Nyabando and Warambwa, in their supporting affidavits, said in the event that they missed the exams, they would not proceed to the next level.

They said the decision to suspend them was heavy handed and discriminatory and accused the university authorities of shoddy investigations.

The students also queried the criteria used in suspending them, arguing that there was no basis for the punitive action.

- Chronicle
Tags: MSU, students, protest, ,
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