Nyemudzai Kakore and Lionel Depute
Controversial cleric Evan Mawarire of #This Flag campaign was yesterday arrested after hijacking a University of Zimbabwe Medical students’ protest against a fee increment.
The university increased the fees from $450 to $900 per semester. This followed extension of the student’s semester by 15 weeks by university authorities.
Mawarire pitched up from nowhere and started addressing the students without even knowing the extent of their plight. Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba confirmed his arrest.
“Evan Mawarire was yesterday arrested after inciting University of Zimbabwe students to demonstrate,” she said. “He will appear in court today.” Mawarire went on to post videos of the protest on social media.
In one of the videos, he is seen trying to understand the students’ grievances before inciting them to demonstrate.
“The increase of the fees is an injustice and an insult to our nation. The fees must definitely fall,” he said. He later posted another video while at Avondale Police Station professing ignorance as to why he had been arrested.
“I addressed students and prayed with them after they demonstrated. I did nothing wrong. I do not know why l was arrested.” Mawarire claimed fees had been increased from $700 to $1 500.
In an interview, UZ Student Representative Council president Stephen Tsikira said they were surprised by Mawarire’s antics. Outgoing SRC vice president Zivai Mhetu said the fee increment was ill-timed.
“We are not objecting that the university increases fees,” he said. “However, because of the economic conditions parents are failing to pay the fees, which is being witnessed by the huge number of drop-outs.”
UZ Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura ordered medical students to vacate their halls of residence after the demonstration.
“It was clearly pointed out that the medical students pay $450 per semester of 15 weeks,” he said. “In this regard, for Third Year Medical students’ 30 week semester, they should pay $900.
The Vice Chancellor agreed that the medical students could apply for a payment plan and pay the fees while they attend lectures.
“The university has now made a decision that all medical students should move out of the halls of residence on campus and off campus with immediate effect.”
Efforts to get a comment from Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Professor Jonathan Moyo and his deputy Dr Godfrey Gandawa were fruitless last night.