HARARE – Zimbabwe National Student Union (ZINASU) leader Clever Bere was arrested while scores of students were injured on Tuesday as armed police violently suppressed an anti-government protest by the students.
Bere and ZINASU secretary for legal affairs Courage Ngwari with whom he was arrested were still in police custody by late Tuesday evening.
Dozens of riot police armed with guns and rubber truncheons descended on the students as they attempted to march to Parliament were they wanted to present a petition to legislators to work to resolve the crisis in the education sector that has crippled learning at most of the country’s schools and universities.
ZINASU secretary for information Blessing Vava said several students had to receive treatment for injuries sustained during the beatings by the police while others were admitted in hospital.
“Some students are admitted at the CSU. We condemn the violent behaviour by the riot police,” said Vava, adding that the crackdown on students raised questions about the sincerity of President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party in signing a power-sharing agreement with the opposition.
The power-sharing agreement between ZANU PF and the two opposition MDC formations commits the parties to allow free political activity in the country and to uphold the freedoms of assembly and association.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena was not immediately available for comment on the matter.
Zimbabwe’s education, once revered as the best on the African continent has collapsed, in tandem with a deep political and economic crisis gripping the country and which is blamed on Mugabe’s controversial policies.
Lack of state funding has seen most government schools operating on shoestring budgets, compromising the quality of education, while trained teachers have left the country to seek better paying jobs in neighbouring countries.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe – one of two unions representing the country’s teachers – last week called on the government to scrap public examinations later this year because pupils and schools were not ready after political violence and a strike by teachers for more pay disrupted much of the 2008 school year. – ZimOnline.