Students at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), with the assistance of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), have filed an urgent court application at the High Court for an order compelling the institution to suspend a hike in tuition fees.
In their application, the students argue that the increase is grossly unreasonable, irrational and it was done outside the provisions of the UZ Act.
Students say their parents and guardians mostly work in the informal sector as vendors, peasant farmers, cross-border traders or teachers and, hence, cannot afford to pay the new fees.
Although the UZ appeared to reconsider the hike, the urgent application was, nevertheless, filed on 15 September on behalf of UZ students by ZLHR member, advocate Tendai Biti.
Biti, who is also the vice president of Zimbabwe’s newly established opposition party the Citizens Coalition for Change, is a former finance minister and current Harare East member of parliament. He had earlier supported the students’ cause by posting on Twitter that the fee increase was unjustifiable.
“The massive tuition fee increases at the University of Zimbabwe are irrational and unlawful. Asking parents to fork out US$1,300 per semester for tuition alone is ridiculous,” he wrote.
“More so, when UZ received an additional ZWL4.5 billion in the Supplementary Budget to take the total to ZWL7.9 billion (US$7.5 million),” Biti wrote in a Twitter thread.
The court application follows protest action against the increases on 12 September, as reported by University World News.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police then arrested and detained 14 people on charges of participating in the protest, while another five UZ students were arrested the following day on similar charges.
Twelve of the first 14 people arrested were released on Tuesday after paying admission-of-guilt fines for disorderly conduct, while the other two, along with the five arrested on 14 September, were later released on bail.