PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe was yesterday publicly shamed, as University of Zimbabwe (UZ) graduates demonstrated at the institution’s graduation ceremony, which he was presiding over, demanding jobs.
Former Zimbabwe National Students’ Union (Zinasu) president Tonderai Dombo led the protests after raising a placard demanding jobs, as Mugabe, the institution’s chancellor, was getting ready to cap more than 3 000 students.
Dombo stood on his chair facing Mugabe and raised a placard with the words: “Graduates today, marovha mangwana (loafers tomorrow), tipei mabasa (give us jobs).”
Mugabe’s aides immediately leapt at Dombo and whisked him away to avoid further embarrassing the 92-year-old Zanu PF leader, whose administration has been under a barrage of criticism both at home and abroad.
Zinasu secretary-general Makomborero Haruzivishe yesterday denounced Dombo’s arrest, describing it as an infringement of the student’s rights.
“Zinasu strongly condemns the arrest of Tonderai Dombo for peacefully raising a placard demanding jobs in his humble bid to seek audience with Robert Mugabe during the UZ graduation ceremony,” Haruzivishe said.
“Mugabe is now an unnecessary political, social and economic liability to our country. He has not only unabatedly pioneered the plunder of all the fruits of our independence, but also devoured our independence and future as a generation and country.”
Tajamuka/Sesijikile social movement also condemned the arrest.
“The question that Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF should be asking themselves is: Where are the 2,2 million jobs they promised? Mugabe and Zanu PF refuse to be held accountable for the promises they made because they have failed to deliver on every single promise,” Tajamuka said.
“Instead of arresting law-abiding citizens and students who have worked hard and who spent money on tuition to get their degrees, Mugabe and his Zanu PF government should be coming up with solutions.”
Before his arrest, Dombo posted on his WhatsApp profile that he was prepared to face the full wrath of the law.
“You can send your Gestapo (secret police in Nazi Germany) to silence me, but the voices of the youths have started speaking and will not cease to speak,” he wrote.
“We, from the gutters of the ghetto, have resolute spirits, which the government has tried to kill, but we remain so we may enjoy our independence from misrule, tyrannical, corrupt, greedy and clueless leadership of gerontocracy.”
The ex-student leader warned the new graduates to brace for a jobless economy.
“The innocent pool of graduates, a good number of whom are ignorant of the harsh realities facing the majority of Zimbabweans since they spent most of their time labouring hard in the stack rooms of the university library, will receive a rude awakening, if they have not yet gotten it already, when they fail to secure an interview, let alone get a job,” Dombo said.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba could not be reached to shed light on Dombo’s whereabouts, as she was said to be in a series of meetings.
Independent economists estimate Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate to be hovering around 90%, with college graduates failing to find formal employment and end up joining the burgeoning informal sector.
Yesterday’s embarrassing incident came a week after Mugabe lashed out at exiled cleric and #ThisFlag campaign leader Evan Mawarire’s demonstrations against his administration at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, equating the protest to washing a family’s dirty linen in public.
Mugabe has since July this year braved demonstrations from members of the public, political parties and civic groups, who are bitter over his alleged misrule, non-delivery of his government’s promised two million jobs, police brutality and government plans to introduce bond notes despite resistance from the citizens.
Meanwhile, the university’s youngest graduate, Maud Chifamba (18), and Central Intelligence Organisation director-general Happyton Bonyongwe were among the over 3 000 students who were capped by Mugabe yesterday.
Chifamba graduated with a Bachelor of Accounts (Honours) degree, while Bonyongwe won the University Book Prize, graduating with a distinction in Masters of Science in International Relations.
Other prominent personalities that graduated included Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission general manager Sukai Tongogara, former CMED board chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa, Highfield West MP Psychology Maziwisa (Zanu PF) and Tabeth Kanengoni-Malinga, the Minister of State in Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko’s Office.