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Hardships cast shadow over MSU graduation

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday capped over 2 000 Midlands State University (MSU) graduands amid pomp and fanfare.


But, during the spectacle, the MSU band reminded through song all those who attended the event that students encountered problems at the institution.

The lyrics spoke about accommodation crises, food and the students’ attempts to balance their academic dreams and the problems they faced.

Those who were capped were relieved that they were leaving the institution, where accommodation has become a perennial problem that has forced several students to co-habit with their partners or even classmates of the opposite sex.

Many students who fail to get residence at the institution or can’t afford rentals in Gweru’s Senga suburb move in with their “well-off” partners who stay in the main hostels.

MSU Vice-Chancellor Ngwabi Bhebhe in his 11th pre-graduation speech, admitted the accommodation crisis at the university had not been solved.

“The accommodation crisis at this institution is causing me sleepless nights because it has become a niggling problem on my neck. I continue to look for ways to solve the problem which has its other challenges which I will not discuss now,” said Bhebhe in the presence of President Mugabe.

Students who spoke to The Standard yesterday confirmed that a number of their peers had resorted to co-habiting to enable them to get by in a highly challenging economic environment.

“Life at the university is just tough. If you get a partner who is well-off you can be accommodated in either their hostel or lodgings, fed and assisted with money to fund other things, this is a better option than dating off-campus men with the hope of getting money,” said one graduand.

Another graduand said: “I stay with my girlfriend so that we can share food and other groceries as and when they come in. On my own, life would be unbearable although this does not change much in rentals which are charged per head here in Senga.”

Forced to walk a long way to venue
Meanwhile, thousands of parents attending the graduation ceremony were left fuming following high security checks put in place to protect President Mugabe.

Police blocked the road leading to Senga from the Gweru-Shurugwi roundabout, forcing parents and other Senga residents to walk a distance of over 15km to reach the university.

Motorists had to use a rundown gravel road normally used by kombi operators to evade police roadblocks.

Graduands in stilettos could be seen making their way to the great hall, as Mugabe’s security personnel made sure no cars got within 10km of the University.

A parent who spoke to The Standard said she was disappointed that she was being punished for attending one of the most important occasions of her child’s life.

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