There was public outrage from Zimbabweans all over when the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education released a statement announcing that cabinet had approved the establishment of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe University.
The university is to be situated 36km North West of Harare in Mazowe District, in the Mashonaland Central province. The responsible authorities of the institution is the Robert Mugabe Foundation, whose trustees are the president himself and his controversial, outspoken wife, Grace Mugabe. What sparked the flames of anger was that cabinet has set aside $1 billion for the construction of the university to commence. The statement also revealed that the university will have a thrust in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (widely known as STEM).
Most people have just viewed the plans simply as outrageous. Professor Jonathan Moyo, who is the minister for the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, revealed that the university will be incubated by the biggest university in Zimbabwe, the University of Zimbabwe (which is a state university) through its Vice-Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura. Moyo went on to say that the university will produce “super specialists.”
They don’t just wield political power alone, they are an authority in different fields of knowledge and the quote “readers are leaders” is manifested …
The announcement comes at a time when Zimbabwe is having an ailing economy that is failing to sustain its citizens. It also comes at a time when the country is in turmoil, and the government is very broke. Last year headlines were generated all over when Mugabe revealed that $15 billion worth of diamonds had gone “missing.” This has prompted the Zimbabweans to be of the assertion that the $15 billion that went missing is now being put into effect.
There is a general outcry from the citizens that a lot needs to be done to improve the exisiting state universities and other institutions of education like primary schools and secondary schools. One of the state universities in Zimbabwe called the National University of Science and Technology has some parts that are not finished being built yet. It then becomes ironical that when other institutions are under-funded, plans to establish another one worth one billion dollars are now underway.
Prominent Zimbabwean advocate Fadzayi Mahere argued that at the time it is not more and more universities that Zimbabwe needs, but that a lot of things have to be fixed right from the politics of the day to the messy economy. For many, this idea of honouring Mugabe through building a university is just ridiculous when a myriad of things are extremely not in a good shape.
Zimbabweans took to Twitter to express their disapproval of the plans through the hashtag #MugabeUniversity. A flurry of mockery teeming with humour as regards the university plans ensued, while others lambasted the notion on the ZBC twitter account and Professor Jonathan Moyo's Twitter account.
It is yet to be seen how this will all turn out. But just from the reaction on social media platforms, it is apparent the idea is not welcome at all except for Mugabe loyalists.