Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
STUDENTS at the University of Zimbabwe say they want access to beer on campus despite acknowledging that there are problems with cocaine and marijuana at the university.
The students also called for the disbandment of the students regulations under Ordinance 30, which they said were archaic and repressive.
The UZ Students’ Representative Council made the plea when the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development toured the university last week.
Some of the issues they raised that have already been made public include the introduction of bunk beds in halls of residence, library facilities that are now failing to cope with demand and limited ablution facilities, among others.
Said SRC secretary for legal affairs Thembinkosi Rushwaya: “Our liquor licence was revoked by the administration authorities, which leaves us with a chance of going outside and contracting a number of things, especially drug abuse.
“You go outside, you find a number of things simply because we cannot entertain ourselves within the university parameters.
“We have a number of cases, especially of female students being flushed out of the hostels, and they are going out simply because you cannot have entertainment on campus. All that we do on campus is work, work and more work.
“We need alcohol on campus. We need to have our October 24 bar open. Other than that, more problems are going to arise.”
However, MPs queried how the absence of alcohol on campus would cause problems.
“One thing that you are missing is that we are all adults. I believe at Parliament there is a cafeteria.
“We need to have entertainment on campus. We can sit down and discuss issues as we integrate, rather than us going outside because drug abuse on campus is on the rise, especially cocaine and marijuana. People are going outside because they are not being entertained,” said Rushwaya.
SRC president Tonderai Dombo said while he did not take alcohol, he advocated that it be allowed at the university.
He was responding to a question from legislators on whether students who were not on campus were better off than those accommodated at the university.
“Look, if you read whilst you are drinking your Chibuku, when you are outside campus, you are better off. But when you are inside campus, you have to go outside and buy your Chibuku and come back with Chibuku in your stomach, which is something that is very cruel.
“Let there be access to alcohol. Let there be freedom in a way, in terms of the good laws. I personally do not drink, but you have to look at these issues,” said Dombo.
The bar was closed in the 1990s when authorities felt students were turning violent during demonstrations because they were drinking alcohol on campus.
SRC secretary-general Sitshengisani Vuma said Ordinance 30 regulations made life difficult for students.
“I wish you had a copy so that you could peruse one by one. I am sure you would not survive as a student here under such regulations. You, as MPs have to get a copy of Ordinance 30 and when you read it, you will understand what we are talking about,” he said.
Dombo said the regulations were repressive and some students had been expelled for breaching it.
“People are being expelled due to Ordinance 30. It is a serious issue.
“We have had to look for lawyers to represent students at court because they were dismissed for petty things for example, because one had overstayed the inter-hostel visiting hours.
“It has a lot of Smith tongue in it. You will cry while reading it. It is very oppressive. The question is, is Ordinance 30 a piece of legislation that people in a free Zimbabwe should be subjected to or it is something that was good for people in a colonial Rhodesia system? Is it parallel with the Constitution?
“Is it meant to promote education at a higher learning institution of this nature, or it is meant to repress students? If it is meant to repress students, then I will give Ordinance 30, 100 percent because it surely does that,” said Dombo.
Committee chairperson Dr Peter Mataruse requested the Ordinance 30 from university authorities for the committee’s consideration.