Tribalist NUST: Heads must roll
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It is a well known fact that Matebeleland was basically destabilised during the 1980s specifically to ensure that learning, inter alia, did not occur in that troubled region which was subjected to a deliberate scorched earth policy.
Given the forgoing, it is a scandal of gargantuan proportions for those entrusted with administering institutions of higher learning like NUST that are located in Matebeleland to be blinded by the so-called "merit" when admitting students to NUST knowing fully well the background that led to the whole region having only a handful of poorly equipped "A" Level schools. The reality on the ground makes a mockery of the calls for devolution of power because the individuals who have been mandated to admit students (there is devolution of power) do not need Mugabe to hoof all the way from Harare to come and tell them who to admit at NUST. This is a simple case of absolute myopia steeped in mindless-blindness on the part of university authorities
In the name of university autonomy and academic freedom, the authorities at NUST have a right to prescribe their entrance requirements paying special attention to the reality on the ground in Matebeleland and the history of the government's scorched earth policy and the deliberate beggar-thy-neighbour policy Matebeleland was subjected to relative to Mashonaland regions. Those who fail to heed such advice are bound to reap the whirlwind in the form of a negative feedback loop, where the outcome of what they do has a negative repercussion to the community they purport to serve.
In order to correct the disequilibrium in the number of students entering NUST , the university authorities need to leap a bit into imagination rather than remain in their current mindless-blindness as demonstrated by one Felix Moyo and his incoherent explanation (which must invite his immediate dismissal for sleeping on the job). Felix Moyo's explanation left many observers disoriented and flummoxed, at best. Any university administrator worthy any salt running a university in Matebeleland should introduce programmes that should enable students from that region to gain entry to those universities. Introduce bridging courses for the first year particularly for students who have good passes in sciences and mathematics in their "O" levels (but do not have "A" levels due to lack of schools) , and, thereafter admit them to programmes like engineering, actuarial studies and medicine. This will ensure an overnight correction of the disequilibrium and the imbalance that manifest through the embarrassingly skewed and distorted numbers we are seeing at NUST.
Leaving the status quo as is, and continuing with it in perpetuity, in the convenient but discredited name of "merit" will only polarise and poison tribal relations in Zimbabwe to the extent of creating a permanent cleavage between the two major tribal groups in Zimbabwe. In the 1980s some so-called award-winning journalists and newspaper editors stationed in Bulawayo closed their eyes to the Gukurahundi tragedy, and to this day they are regretting why they never raised a finger to protest. If the government is serious and it takes the people of Matebeleland seriously (not just as voting fodder) then it must start by firing,outrightly, all the authorities at NUST , Heads must roll. New administrators must be found who would immediately introduce bridging classes for the students from Matebeleland and the situation will be corrected forthwith.
The allegation that children from Matebeleland do not want to learn as propounded by overzealous but lazy analysts is not worth the paper it is written on. The suggestion that NUST must continue to admit students from Mashonaland oblivious of the situation on the ground is worse than dangerous. It smacks of hubristic narcissism. It is high time that those who are entrusted with running institutions start using their heads (rather than thinking that their heads are there merely to keep their two ears apart) and vigorously implement these bridging programmes without delay. In South Africa, universities accept people to universities sometimes even without the necessary matrics but on the grounds of maturity and work experience. Witness how politicians all over Africa rush to South African hospitals to be attended by such graduate doctors. Politicians would not even dare to go to Parirenyatwa for medical attention by those who went to UZ on "merit" . Never. The standards are world class in South Africa. What is important for universities is the exit point. That is where they need to ensure that students exiting their institutions meet the standards by teaching them thoroughly.
Granted it does not follow that following the academic route is always and everywhere the be all and end all to life's complex problems. Neither does it mean that those who come out of universities will all do wonders. Consider graduates like Robert Mugabe, Hendrik Verwoerd and Ian Smith who all completed their schooling at various schools in Zimbabwe, .i.e. Ian Smith (Chaplin High School, in Gweru) , Robert Mugabe (Kutama Mission, in Zvimba), and Hendrik Verwoerd (Milton High School in Bulawayo). These individuals were able to do their studies in top South African universities like Rhodes University (Smith), Fort Hare (Mugabe), Stellenbosch University (Verwoerd), inter alia. Upon completing his schooling at Milton High School, apartheid's architect, Dr Hendrik Verwoerd was able to go to South Africa and study at South African universities and went on to implement his apartheid madness. Mugabe on the other hand went on to unleash what he termed his Gukurahundi "moment of madness", while Smith myopically pronounced his madness via his "...never in a thousand years" against black majority rule.
Having said that, and notwithstanding the above realities, Matebeleland students deserve a chance to be allowed to pursue their dreams so that they can face the world. It is against all odds that with scanty and skimpy resources, Matebeleland is able to produce world acclaimed professionals like current chief economist and vice president of the African Development Bank, Prof Mthuli Ncube. Matebeleland boasts individuals like Vodacom South Africa's chairman, Peter Moyo, Junior Ngulube, CEO, Munich Reinsurance as well as MTN South Africa's Chief Executive officer Sifiso Dabengwa, to name the obvious.
It is therefore ridiculous and naive for NUST's Felix Moyo to allege that Matebeleland's students are incapable. On 12 March 2012, Mashonaland's Gideon Gono (of all people) told a business seminar that "...there is no region with finer brains than Matabelelaland," in Zimbabwe. Need I say more. It is high time tough measures are taken against administrators who let the region down by recklessly neglecting their duties. You do not need de jure devolution when you fail to implement de facto devolution already within your mandate. The bottomline is that the authorities at NUST must be fired without delay so as to set the record straight.
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