Bankrupt Zimbabwe says it will spend about £800 million on a new university which will be named after President Robert Mugabe, 93. The university will be built on land seized from white farmers by his wife, Grace.
The announcement came from Jonathan Moyo, minister of Higher and Tertiary Education who is heavily involved in the succession battle over Mr Mugabe’s replacement when he retires or dies.
He said the university will concentrate on science, technology and engineering and will also have a research institute. Mr Moyo said the cabinet has already approved cash for the construction of the university.
“The Ministry is privileged and excited about Cabinet’s decision to establish The Robert Gabriel University. There can be no better recognition of President Mugabe’s commitment to education and his exemplary leadership.”
Mr Moyo said the university will be built in the Mazowe district, 36 km north west of Harare, which is where Mrs Mugabe seized her first white-owned farm from an elderly couple in 2002. Mrs Mugabe has taken over several more farms in the district.
With cash from a Chinese company, Mrs Mugabe built two expensive private schools on the land she took from the white farmers.
Zimbabwe has many so-called universities and technical colleges but they are all short of resources, including staff, equipment and accommodation for students. With unemployment at about 90 percent few graduates find jobs and Zimbabwe cannot even provide drugs for poor patients at dilapidated state hospitals. Civil servants are paid late almost every month.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, told Reuters the government should improve facilities at the present universities: “This is populism that defies logic. It is meant to stroke Mugabe’s ego because we know this government is broke,” Obert Gutu, MDC spokesman said.
Within three years of independence, Mr Mugabe launched a violent campaign against his political opponents and about 20 000 opposition supporters were killed by a North Korean trained brigade. Hundreds of MDC supporters were killed since it emerged and seriously challenged Mr Mugabe’s ruling Zanu Pf 18 years ago. He will fight his last election next year.
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