TWO of the country’s leading universities —— the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) —— are expected to re-open next week for the last semester this year amid reports that lecturers will be on strike and that results of many students are not yet out.
The opening of the universities has been postponed on several occasions because of the lecturers’ industrial action pressing for better salaries and working conditions.
While the UZ opens on Monday, there is no water supply at the institution, and there is a critical shortage of academic and non-academic staff.
Tafadzwa Mugwadi, a political science student, yesterday said: “There is inadequate staff, both academic and non-academic, at the campus and the water they promised is not even coming out from the taps.”
Students said UZ students lacked critical resources for their studies.
“There is shortage of resources,” a student from the veterinary department said. “Drugs such as anaesthetics for surgeries and antibiotics are not available. X-ray machines for our practical studies are not working.”
UZ lecturer John Makumbe wondered why authorities wanted the college to open on Monday.
Makumbe said: “Most lecturers are not coming to work because they do not have money. There is no water and a lot of toilets are still blocked. It is impossible to hold lectures in some of the lecture rooms because of the smell from the toilets. That the boreholes are all rehabilitated and are working is simply fiction.”
“There is total confusion at the UZ; you find students registering without knowing what their last semester’s results were. At the end of the day it will affect them during the course of the semester.”
The UZ acting director of information and public relations, Daniel Chihombori, yesterday said the harsh economic environment presented serious challenges to the resource mobilisation process at the college, hence necessitating the postponement of re-opening of the university on several occasions.
He said stakeholders were working flat out to ensure that lectures start on Monday.
“Most of the (students) results have been published already,” Chihombori said. “Work on the rehabilitation of boreholes and the improvement of the water situation on the campus is on-going. The parties to the problem are working hard to ensure that the institution has adequate and continuous water supplies.”
He said while the UZ has been losing staff, it was continuously hiring new employees, as well as benefiting from its investment in local and international staff development programmes.
“We are aware that the university has been facing challenges with respect to the rehabilitation and/or repair of some teaching equipment because of lack of spares (not available locally). We, however, are not aware of the shortage of the specific machines that you mentioned,” Chihombori said.
At Nust, the strike by lecturers forced the college authorities to delay reopening and threatened to disrupt the annual graduation ceremony next month.
Initially, the college was supposed to open on August 25, but the date was moved to the end of September because of the industrial action, before it was moved to October 6.
The lecturers are demanding a basic monthly salary of US$4 000 or R31 000 for the least paid academic staff.
Wongai Zhangazha/Henry Mhara