UNIVERSITY of Zimbabwe students say they want access to beer on campus despite acknowledging that there was a rise in the abuse of drugs such as cocaine and marijuana at the institution of higher learning. The students also called for the disbandment of the students regulations under Ordinance 30, which they said were archaic and repressive.
The UZ Student Representative Council made the plea when the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development toured the university earlier this week.
Some of the issues they raised include the introduction of bunk beds in halls of residence, library facilities that are now failing to cope with demand, and ablution facilities, among others.
Said SRC secretary for Legal Affairs, Thembinkosi Rushwaya: “Our liquor licence was revoked by the authorities, which leaves us with no choice but to go outside where we’re exposed to a number of things, especially drug abuse.
“You go outside, you find a number of things simply because we can’t entertain ourselves within the university parameters.
“We’ve a number of cases, especially of female students being flushed out of the hostels, and they’re going out simply because you can’t have entertainment on campus. All that we do on campus is work, work and more work.
“We need alcohol on campus. We need to have our October 24 bar open. Other than that, more problems are going to arise.”
However, MPs queried how the absence of alcohol on campus would cause problems adding that they were supposed to concentrate on their education.
Rushwaya retorted: “One thing that you’re missing is that we’re all adults. I believe at Parliament there’s a cafeteria.
“We need to have entertainment on campus. We can sit down and discuss issues as we integrate, rather than us going outside because drug abuse on campus is on the rise, especially cocaine and marijuana. People are going outside because they aren’t being entertained.”
SRC president Tonderai Dombo said while he did not take alcohol, he advocated for it to be allowed at the university.
He was responding to a question from legislators on whether students who were not on campus were better off than those accommodated at the university.
Look, if you read whilst you’re drinking your Chibuku when you’re outside campus, you’re better off. But when you’re inside campus, you’ve to go outside and buy your Chibuku and come back with Chibuku in your stomach, which is something that’s very cruel.
“Let there be access to alcohol. Let there be freedom in a way, in terms of the good laws. I personally don’t drink, but you’ve to look at these issues,” said Dombo.
The October 24 bar was closed in the 1990s when authorities felt students were turning violent during demonstrations because they were taking alcohol on campus.
SRC secretary-general, Sitshengisani Vuma, said Ordinance 30 regulations made life difficult for students.
“I wish you had a copy so that you could peruse one by one. I’m sure you wouldn’t survive as a student here under such regulations. You, as MPs have to get a copy of Ordinance 30 and when you read it, you’ll understand what we’re talking about,” he said.
Dombo added that the regulations were repressive to students as some students had been expelled for breaching them.
“People are being expelled due to Ordinance 30. It’s a serious issue. We’ve had to look for lawyers to represent students at court because they were dismissed for petty things for example, because one had overstayed the inter-hostel visiting hours.
“It has a lot of (Ian) Smith tongue in it. You can see that it’s some Rhodesian forces. You’ll cry while reading it. It’s very oppressive.
“The question is, is Ordinance 30 a piece of legislation that people in a free Zimbabwe should be subjected to or it’s something that was good for people in a colonial Rhodesia system? Is it parallel with the Constitution?
“Is it meant to promote education at a higher learning institution of this nature, or it’s meant to repress students? If it’s meant to repress students, then I’ll give Ordinance 30, 100 percent because it surely does that,” said Dombo.
Committee chairperson, Peter Mataruse, requested the Ordinance 30 from university authorities for the committee’s consideration.