Lonias Rozvi Majoni Correspondent
The Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union (ZICOSU) is arguably one of the best student movements to have ever emerged in Africa. However, the once illustrious student movement risks relegating itself to a historical relic if its poor showing at the recent student representative council elections at several institutions of higher learning is not remedied as a matter of urgency.
Many theories have been proffered to explain ZICOSU’s dismal performance in elections held at several tertiary institutions like the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and at Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE) just to mention a few.
Political noise makers and overzealous shrilling cicadas have gone to the length of peddling unfounded rhetoric about the matter.
It is totally incorrect and absurd to speculate that the losses by ZICOSU, an affiliate of the ruling party’s youth wing, is a reflection of the growing unpopularity of ZANU-PF and President Mnangagwa.
It should be known that the ZANU-PF Youth League and its affiliates, that include ZICOSU, are well-oiled organs of the ruling party imbued with an array of resource support systems.
I write as a former student leader who is an avid ZANU-PF member greatly concerned and pained by the seemingly waning fortunes of ZICOSU, a once vibrant and revered national student body.
It is saddening to note that the ZANU-PF Youth League and ZICOSU have of late been both sluggish in executing of their respective duties.
Retrospectively, the same union has in the past years been winning elections in almost all institutions of higher learning in Zimbabwe. In addition, the same union has been making great strides towards empowerment of students.
What is most worrisome is that the flame that used to shine at all institutions of higher learning is no longer aglow as the ZICOSU leadership has failed to maintain and adhere to its core founding values that endeared the organisation to students.
A lot of fissures gradually emerged soon after ZICOSU’s national executive council congress.
The leadership got engaged in a number of Janus-faced activities which were inconsistent with the revolutionary party’s ideals and the students’ expectations. One of the sticking issues needing urgent address is the alleged embezzlement of funds by the ZIcosu leadership, especially on events like the students convention held a few months ago.
The alleged embezzlement was hinted at by the union’s 34-year-old secretary-general Tapiwa Marongere in a seemingly satirical prayer in which he called for transparency and accountability regarding funds availed for the event.
The leadership is also said to have been making a series of requests for fuel coupons from the party in the name of the union — all for personal gain.
Another devastating case is the one involving a consignment of T-shirts. The leadership of ZICOSU is said to have asked for union regalia from the Commissariat, but they chose dishonesty and overcharged the T-shirts. Another case among many which cannot be said due to fear of sounding like washing too much dirty linen in public is the failure by the union leaders, with Takudzwa Gambiza and Sympathy Pasipanodya in particular, failing to account for allowances that were availed by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) for union members who participated in the previous carnival campaign in Kuwadzana and Harare’s CBD.
Given the publicly known and catalogued misdemeanours of the ZICOSU leadership, it came as no surprise that the issue of misappropriation of funds loomed large during the recent student representative council elections.
A case to note is that of one Godknows Mdhari, who is said to have allegedly disappeared into thin air with funds that were meant to fuel the union’s candidates at NUST, the same way Gambiza, Pasipanodya and Mongiwa Dube were said to be responsible for the disappearance of funds meant for University of Zimbabwe student representative council elections.
Further, the union’s national and provincial executives have overstayed their tenures and at least three of the current executive members are no longer eligible to hold any positions since they are no longer students. It is ironic that the same leadership has on numerous occasions complained that the zANU-PF Youth League is sabotaging a number of their proposed initiatives meant to conscientise students to rally behind the revolutionary party.
The Youth League has been accused of failing to avail resources on time or to offer substantial support to any project proposed by ZICOSU.
It is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Indeed, there are elements within the Youth League who are bent on excelling in sullying the good name of a critical wing of the revolutionary party. These unscrupulous elements are said to have been the ones on the forefront of putting under wraps the nefarious activities of the current ZICOSU leadership. This has created a chasm that left the union in chaos. This adds to claims that there is a section of the old guard within the Youth League which fears competition from student activists who are eager to impact the revolutionary party with an intellectual flair.
It is the culmination of all these issues that has resulted in the revolutionary union being stuck in the deathly dross of inertia as efforts among students and former student leaders to whip the national executive council into shape have for long been frustrated.
However, it seems the results of the recent elections at various institutions have opened a Pandora’s box, whose foul smell can’t be shielded away.
It is a mischief of the highest order by some within the echelons of ZICOSU to try and blame their failure on the revolutionary party.
What is clear is that the party’s Youth League and student representatives need to look themselves in the mirror and own up to the mess they have allowed to fester over the years.
As a way forward, ZICOSU needs to put itself in line with the Second Republic’s reform agenda. There is urgent need to infuse a new leadership with a new impetus and new ideas of galvanising students into appreciating the revolutionary party’s ethos and ideals. There is urgent need to hold a transparent congress which adheres to constitutionalism, where genuine students are voted into positions of leadership.
The old days of doing the old ways without accountability should be permanently cast away.
Lonias Rozvi Majoni is a former student leader at the University of Zimbabwe who is an avid literature reader and youth activist.
Source: The Herald