Local university slammed after banning pens at graduation

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IN a bizarre incident, last week’s graduation ceremony at Lupane State University (LSU) turned into a farce for some parents and graduands, after State security agents barred pens or pieces of paper from the venue, probably fearing these could be used to produce offensive banners against President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe, as the vice-chancellor of all State universities, was the guest of honour.

As people were entering into the graduation venue, they were searched and their pens confisticated.

Even journalists from the print media were not spared, as they had their pens seized, in spite of them having positively identified themselves by producing their accreditation cards.

graduationSecurity officers at the entry points claimed they had been ordered not to allow pens into the venue. One of the journalists, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was shocking that a pen is now viewed as a security threat ahead of cellphones and various electronic gadgets that were allowed into the venue.

“This is nonsense. How can one take my pen away, even after identifying myself? I am at work, security details should respect our jobs too,” he said.

Even the intervention of LSU spokesperson, Zwelithini Dhlamini to assist the disgruntled journalists could not help the situation, as security agents stood their ground.

“Gentleman, at the moment I cannot assist. All we have to do is to work with what we have and according to instructions. This is a national event, as you can see,” one of them said.

But Higher and Tertiary Education deputy minister, Godfrey Gandawa said he was unaware of the incident, before referring all questions to State Security minister Kembo Mohadi.

“We are not aware of that. I think it is best you contact the Security ministry and find out why pens are not allowed at graduation ceremonies,” he said.

A few weeks ago, Mugabe was left with egg on his face after three University of Zimbabwe (UZ) graduands raised placards in protests at a graduation ceremony he was officiating.

The placards denounced his government for continuously churning out graduates into a closed economy without any job prospects.

UZ has allegedly withheld the graduands’ certificates, amid reports the institution was mulling disciplinary action against them.

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