March 18, 2015 In Legal Support

University of Zimbabwe reopens after threat of court action

The threat of court action has forced the University of Zimbabwe to re-open hardly 24 hours after it issued a statement advising students it would be closing for a week and they needed to move out of their halls of residence immediately.

The UZ students on Tuesday challenged the decision by authorities to arbitrarily evict those residing in the institution’s halls of residence.

Through their lawyers, Gift Mtisi and Webster Jiti, the students body responded to the UZ Vice-Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura protesting that “the wanton and immediate closure of the university’s halls of residence was ill advised as it impinges on the students’ fundamental rights including the right to shelter and the right to food.”

“Most of them have nowhere to go and your immediate decision to eject them exposes them to risk of criminals on the streets, prostitution among other evils which may visit them in their desperate situation,” the lawyers said in their letter.

The lawyers warned the UZ authorities to reverse the eviction of the students and arrange for a reasonable timeframe in which they can be reasonably expected to be financially stable, ready to check out and accommodate the university’s so-called recess.

“We further advise you against trampling on their rights enshrined both in the UZ’s Charter and the Constitution of Zimbabwe as such action will not go uncontested.

“In the interim, be advised that no student should check out as per your arbitrary and unlawful letter and kindly advise them to remain in their halls of residence until such a time a proper and reasonable notice has been issued.”

The University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor Levi Nyagura backed down on Wednesday and has since issued a circular reversing the closure.

“Following an earlier statement issued yesterday advising students, the general public and indeed the University of Zimbabwe community that the institution was going on recess until 24 March 2015, I am happy to advise that urgent issues that needed immediate attention have now been resolved. Consequently, lectures resumed today 18 March, 2015 at 0800 hours.

“Resident students should return to their hostels immediately and attend lectures as usual.

“The University of Zimbabwe wishes to thank the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development for her timely intervention to address the urgent issues.” Signed Professor L.M Nyagura (Vice Chancellor)

Source: Nehanda Radio