Will students decide 2018? (Part 3)
political party. This event marked a colossal damage in the history and future of Zimbabwe’s aging opposition whose victories were wedged on the support mobilised by the students in successive years since 2000, however, continually waning. It may not have made headlines in the press, but the occurrence was a smash below the belt for an indisposed president leading a cloying party badgered by copious ruptures and opposition within an opposition.
The move by Alister really implies a new dimension in the operations of students’ movements, I would certainly believe so and be assured that it marked the beginning of an epoch of an independent student body wishing to engage on student issues solely.
However, it does not go unserved, a split happened all because of that crusade (it is now typical of any organisation in our country). There are those who persisted loyal to “Save Chete” who remained the old Zinasu, we still see an existence of a captured segment of the student body, but in all exerts, the bold move by the young Pfunye inscribed an important phase of students longing to be a support arm of the Government.
The diabolical part is that voter apathy still dominates the description of campus elections. In an institution where at least 23 000 students are registered, only 5 000 participates (21%) and in some with at least 18 000, only 2 000 (11%) cast their votes and campus elections are more or less a replica of mainstream politics. Infact, SRC participation, either as a candidate or an electorate is a reflection of your political consciousness as a student and an eligible national elections voter.
It is also identical with the “passive” students who do not see the importance of voting on campus as they are not politically liberated by the system. The underlying argument is that the university does not incentivise voting or political participation on campus except stipends for the elected who today run for office for nothing else than the allowances.
It has become a “shame” for one to be SRC president for a year and fail to buy a car, yet the universities are always clamouring financial constraints. It is a worse myth for one to hold office and fail to “abuse” part 1s who are still hung up on the social capital of a high school prefect and how cool it is to hang out with a student with institutional duties.
This has become a repellent culture of our student politics where seniors and the potential voter despises the whole system because either the candidates are most likely not going to deliver their campus promises because their interests are more personal, social or they represent a political party faction which if one is known for supporting might land her “in trouble”.
To factor it all, with a student culture where SRCs no longer depict a “good” political culture, the electorate on campus is not motivated to participate in anything that has an election and a candidate involved. With political parties today struggling to convince the youth vote which also involves the academically liberated, the big question is: is the potential voter informed, misinformed or uninformed?
This tripartite will address the problem we currently have where the student leaders themselves are either an uninformed lot who cannot articulate a party idea which they purport to be loyal to or they are misinformed that should they be unquestioning followers of faction X they are the legitimate members of an organisation or worse off they totally have no idea of what they are following. How then do we envisage such a lot to convince the politically uninterested yet so intelligent student to vote on campus or even on national elections? The university as a companion of the
student struggle From its conceptualisation, a university is a community of members who are engaged in seeking the truth. In so doing, a university is granted the privilege of academic freedom.
The primary concern for the university should therefore be scholarly and only secondarily reformist. The starting point for judging a university should be its academic prowess in terms of generating and contributing to the advancement of knowledge.
However, an inevitable product of knowledge and enlightenment is the desire to bring change to the status quo in society. In the same vein, student politics in Zimbabwe should mirror the desired national politics of the day.
The essential facts about everyday life in Zimbabwe should be impinged upon student representation and political activities. At the same time, the enduring culture of revolutionary protest can best be summed up by Karl Marx’s observation that the history of society is indeed a history of class struggle. In a way, students should view themselves as a class, with a special identity, place and role to play in society.