Zimbabwe: Rights Lawyers Group Forces Bulawayo Polytechnic to Rescind Expulsion of Student

3 December 2020

Authorities at Bulawayo Polytechnic have reversed their decision in which they had expelled a motor mechanics student for alleged misconduct following the intervention of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who protested the institution's decision.

Lawson Machida, a mechanical student at Bulawayo Polytechnic was expelled on 4 November 2020 by Gilbert Mabasa, the Principal at the institution and suspended for a period of two years and advised that he may seek readmission at Bulawayo Polytechnic not earlier than 2023 on allegations that he had behaved in a manner that is unbefitting of a student enrolled at the college.

The unwarranted suspension and expulsion compelled Machida to engage Jabulani Mhlanga of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who protested against the institution's decision.

In a letter addressed to Mabasa, Mhlanga argued that Machida had only been summoned to testify as a witness on 12 October 2020 in a case in which a student at Bulawayo Polytechnic had been dragged before a disciplinary hearing for allegedly assaulting the institution's Matron.

Mhlanga charged that even though he was a witness and not subjected to disciplinary proceedings, the disciplinary committee digressed from its mandate and made an adverse finding against Machida based on his testimony as a witness during the disciplinary hearing and held that he behaved in a manner unbefitting a student.

In addition, Mhlanga protested that the student was not subjected to any disciplinary hearing in terms of the law and was never given any notice or advised that he was under any investigation or disciplinary process for committing acts of misconduct.

The human rights lawyer stated that the expulsion of Machida by Mabasa without following due processes was a clear violation of his constitutional rights in particular the right to education guaranteed in section 75 of the Constitution and the right to administrative justice provided in section 68 of the Constitution.

In response to Mhlanga's letter, Mabasa conceded that his institution had erred in expelling and suspending Machida and advised that the institution had annulled its decision on the motor mechanics student and reinstated him to continue pursuing his studies at Bulawayo Polytechnic.

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