Zimbabwe: Minister Defends University Fees

13 February 2020

Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira has defended State university fees of between $3 500 and $5 000 per semester, saying they were meant to uphold quality education.

This was after he was subjected to a barrage of questions in the National Assembly yesterday where members sought to know whether the Government had considered what ordinary workers were earning.

Legislators told Prof Murwira during the question and answer session that ordinary workers were earning $800.

Pegging State university fees at $5 000, they said, had the effect of excluding most of them as the majority of parents could hardly afford the new fees.

But Prof Murwira defended Government's decision, saying the fees were reasonable and meant to uphold quality education that Zimbabwe was known for.

He said State universities intended to hike the fees by more than double what was now set, prompting central Government to intervene and moderate their demands.

"We determined the level of fees based on people's income, and we followed procedures. We are saying we have to access quality education. Our last ordinance of 2019 was in United States dollars. This is the first time that we are putting ordinances in Zimbabwean dollar. We are talking of levels of fees and not increases. We just determined the fundamentals of quality education," said Prof Murwira.

"We cannot have a class without chemicals and equipment. That can only be a populist policy to destroy the education system. The state of the economy of the country is determined by the state of its higher education.

"We cannot politick with higher and tertiary education. If we politick with it, we are politicking with our future."

He said Government had introduced student loans to cater for those who could not afford the fees.

Legislators were however, not convinced by Prof Murwira's explanation as they felt the fees were out of sync with what ordinary persons were earning.

Buhera South legislator Cde Joseph Chinotimba (Zanu PF) said workers were earning far less than the fees and asked how they were expected to afford.

Others said Government had recently gazette wages for domestic worked pegged at less than $200 and the fees would mean that they would not be able to send their children to tertiary institutions.

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