National Student Council to nurture youths in peacebuilding in politics
Yvonne Ncube, Chronicle Correspondent
A NATIONAL Student Council that aims to unite students from various political affiliations was officially launched at a local hotel last week.
A non-governmental organization, 4-H Zimbabwe Foundation, launched the council on Saturday as part of the International Day of Peace commemorations.
Student Representative Council leaders from six Zimbabwean universities were invited to the conversation, which aimed to debate peace-making among representatives while resisting influence from the mainstream political parties to which they may be affiliated.
Youths from different political parties which include ZANU-PF, CCC, MDC- T and LEAD welcomed the idea of promoting peace, inclusivity and tolerance among young people with different political memberships.
The students reached a mutual agreement that their role is to look beyond political affiliations and appreciate one another to reduce political violence ahead of elections next year.
4-H Zimbabwe Foundation National Director Mr John Muchenje said the National Students Council aims at nurturing students in peace building before they join mainstream politics.
“In all campuses, we are pushing for and fostering peacebuilding and tolerance. Universities have been regarded by political parties as a fertile hunting ground for their political goals. So, we are nurturing these students from an early age before they enter mainstream politics. We need them to engage in active student activism. We have established the National Students Council, which is a council for student leaders rather than political parties, and then the things that they should discuss there should come from students.
“For example, the fees must fall hashtag, should come from students in a coordinated manner where SRC leaders will be raising tangible issues. The committee will then consult with their authorities. That committee will then engage its authorities. We want students to be independent and separate student activism from mainstream politics. We want to encourage student activism in a positive and constructive manner,” he said.
In an interview with Chronicle, National University of Science and Technology, SRC President Tapfuma Muganiwa said it is important for students representing different political parties to maintain peace at all times.
“As a leader, you must first decide whether the decisions that you’re going to take suit the people you are representing or the political party. The current scenario is that students who support different political parties no longer see eye to eye. It shouldn’t be like that. We agree that we are of different beliefs and we are not to be judged because there’s no yardstick on what is right and what is wrong.
“For example, if I look at my brother from ZINASU or any other political party and I take a weapon to kill my brother it is wrong. Whether you are ZICOSU or ZINASU, that is wrong that we agree on that. What we disagree on, however, is in terms of approaches when it comes to leadership. It is not a lie that we get calls from people who want to define for us what leadership is or rather who want to motivate us to become who we are. This happens to all parties surely. It is not a secret that ZICOSU looks up to ZANU-PF while ZINASU looks up to CCC, but this doesn’t mean that we should be enemies. Peace begins with us and we should be able to defy the odds and work in harmony as different political parties,” he said.
In another interview, Benon Ncube, the ZINASU president argued that unity between the major competing parties was feasible and attainable.
“SRC elections between Zinasu and Zicosu come once in a while and you will never hear of these students fighting in between. It’s a matter of making sure that what they have been doing before elections is what they should do even during elections. Before elections, they will be dining together, studying together and even partying together.
“So, on the same day you are having elections, you are still the same person regardless of the call that you got from the political party you support. It is possible, it’s just a matter of encouraging fellow union associates that what was happening before, should happen today on the day of the election because we are one and it should remain like that,” Ncube said.
The students’ council representative Bruce Moyo said the role of the new council seeks to end political divisions among students.
“Our fundamental purpose is to eradicate and address divisions among students. We have understood and come to a realisation that as students in Zimbabwe we have common challenges and goals, so there is no need to deny it ourselves when it comes to the approach to addressing our common goals. Regardless of our political affiliation and unionism in terms of Zicosu and Zinasu. So, this initiative is formulated to address such divisions among ourselves. Yes, Zinasu and Zicosu must exist, this is good and advisable for opinions to differ and that’s politics. Our main goal is that people should debate, not in terms of personalities but in terms of ideas and facts,” he said.