High Court blocks student leader’s suspension
THE High Court yesterday quashed the suspension of a Midlands State University (MSU) student leader who was facing allegations of participating in a political demonstration organised by the Zimbabwe People First and the MDC-T in Gweru.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Francis Bere’s ruling followed an urgent chamber application by Archibold Elias Madida, a second year student majoring in History and International Relations, challenging his suspension by the university.
Madida, who is also an MDC-T activist, is identified in court papers as the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) MSU chairperson.
Madida is accused of having engaged in a conduct which is likely or reasonably likely to be harmful to the interests of the university in terms of section 3.1.4 of Ordinance No. 2 of 2000.
Justice Bere ordered MSU Vice-Chancellor Professor Ngwabi Bhebhe to lift the suspension.
“The applicant’s suspension pending the conducting of a disciplinary hearing against him be permanently uplifted. The applicant be and is hereby allowed to be on the university premises, attend lectures, participate in university programmes and have access to all university facilities,” ruled the judge.
Madida was served with a suspension letter on August 17 and barred from accessing the campus without the Vice-Chancellor’s permission.
According to court papers, Madida is said to have been “pictured holding a placard with the inscription “MSU STUDENTS 100% BEHIND MDC-T”.
The placard carried the MSU logo side by side with that of the MDC-T.
The MSU authorities accused Madida of abusing the university logo for political purposes and subsequently barred him from attending lectures and participating in university programmes as well as accessing all facilities at the institution.
Madida, through his lawyers, Gundu and Dube Legal Practitioners, argued that his suspension was not justifiable and a violation of his constitutional right to freedom of conscience and association.
“I believe I was only suspended because I am affiliated to the MDC-T, which is the main opposition party in the country. This is a contravention of my right to freedom of conscience, freedom of association and my right not to be discriminated against on the basis of political affiliation,” said Madida.
Madida, who said he was the “MDC-T’s former student council” spokesperson, claimed that he was being victimised on political grounds.
“It is surprising that I am being victimised for allegedly being photographed holding an MDC-T placard alongside the MSU logo. I believe I am being victimised for being known as an MDC-T activist and for being vocal at the university and criticising authorities,” he said.
In May, three MSU students were also suspended for allegedly mobilising other students through WhatsApp to stage a protest over poor living conditions at the Zvishavane campus. They were later reinstated by the High Court.— @mashnets.