“In the first place, the selection criteria used to award those scholarships is questionable. It has strong Zanu PF connotations and not a Zimbabwean programme.”
ZIMBABWEAN students studying abroad on scholarships paid by President Robert Mugabe’s office have been urged to return home after it emerged government has failed to honour its obligations.
What began as an SOS to higher education minister Professor Jonathan Moyo by students based in Russia quickly spread after those in Algeria joined in the Twitter appeals.
A student in Algeria on the presidential scholarship scheme signing off as @drsmusans said: “Also us in Algeria we haven’t received money for a year now. Please spread the word also”.
Hubert Nyabadza, the president of Zimbabwean students based in Russia who sent out the first appeal, asked for a meeting with Mugabe.
“If it’s possible Sir we would like to meet the President himself to tell him our story since we are under presidential scholarship. Please Sir help us,” Nyabadza told Prof Moyo.
Prof Moyo early yesterday promised to relay the message to Department of Scholarships in the Office of the President and Cabinet minister Christopher Mushowe.
However, MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said the students should be brought home instead.
“They should come home. We do not have the money,” he said.
Zanu PF programme
“If Mugabe had stopped travelling and channelled that money towards the welfare of the students, things would have worked out fine. But this government has misplaced priorities.”
Zimbabwe Transitional Alliance (ZiTA) leader Philemon Machana weighed in, saying; “It is shocking that a government lead by a man who purports to love education dumps unsuspecting children in foreign lands and fails to cater for their welfare.
“In the first place, the selection criteria used to award those scholarships is questionable. It has strong Zanu PF connotations and not a Zimbabwean programme.
“The real people who should benefit have never benefitted hence our call to have every scholarship and that money channelled towards developing infrastructure in local universities.”
Machana’s sentiments were echoed by People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson Jacob Mafume who argued the presidential scholarship scheme is a “scam” meant to milk the State of the little money in national treasury.
“It’s a scam that has nothing to do with empowering citizens or disadvantaged children,” he said.
“We have a government that has watched local infrastructure fall to its knees and then turn around to send dozens of children to foreign countries to be trained in languages and literature not science.”
Mafume added: “The most dangerous part is these poor students are exposed to the vagaries of international criminal drug and prostitution syndicates in order to survive.
“It is a sad story that is waiting to be told in Mugabe’s aftermath. Most of these children have been turned into drug mules in order to survive.”