Zim police arrest student leaders after fees demo

Harare - Police in Harare have arrested three student leaders from the University of Zimbabwe, as rights lawyers went to court to challenge the eviction of hundreds of medical students in the wake of this week's fees protest.

Those arrested are Steven Tsikirai, president of the UZ’s Students Representative Council (SRC); Treasurer Ignatius Mukuchi and Sports Secretary Kudakwashe Guta, lawyers said.

Disorderly conduct

"ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) officers allege that the student leaders acted in a disorderly conduct and committed public violence during a protest staged by some UZ medical students on Monday," said the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).

The demonstration was the same one in which popular #ThisFlag leader, Evan Mawarire was arrested. On Wednesday a Harare magistrate granted him $200 bail.

University authorities accused the protesters of throwing stones during the demonstration.

Hundreds of medical students were ordered to leave their residences on Monday evening, and some had to sleep out in the open or take shelter at a local church.

Unexpected hardship

The students' evictions came at the worst possible time, as the medical students were this week due to begin writing exams.

Rights lawyers have appealed to the Harare High Court to have the evictions overturned. The case will be heard on Wednesday afternoon. 

“This sudden requirement to secure alternative accommodation has created an unexpected hardship at a time when they should be pouring all their energies into preparing for these examinations,” said the ZLHR.

The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) meanwhile said on Wednesday it would continue to push for a reduction in fees.

Education for all

“We demand education for all, grants and academic loans not tuition fees hikes,” said ZINASU Secretary General Makomborero Haruzivishe in a statement.

The UZ says only third-year medical students pay $900 for a 30-week semester. But activists say that additional fees and levies push the total much higher.

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