Will students de­cide 2018? (Part 3)

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Big Read -

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.

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