Monday, 30 September 2013

Police disrupt FSN workshop in Masvingo

FSN in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) carries out Global Political Agreement (GPA) debates with students as well as community members.

The aim of the workshops is to evaluate the GPA and to also discuss about female students participating in national processes such as the recently held elections and the constitution making process.

The Network has been working with female students for three years and it is authorised by the deans of students who view the Networks’ workshops as extra curricula activities.

On Friday the 20th of September, FSN held a workshop in Masvingo with Masvingo Polytechnic female students on Friday the 20th of September 2013. Female students who attended the workshop were from Masvingo Teachers’’ College, Mogenster Teachers’ College and Great Zimbabwe University.

FSN usually works with local organisations during such activities. The Network had invited a representative from Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD), a Masvingo based organisation, to give a presentation during the workshop

At around 15 00hrs, the workshop was disrupted by the police who had been tipped off by Zimbabwe Congress of Students’ Union (ZICOSU) members that there was a former Zimbabwe National Students’ Union (ZINASU) member. The ZICOSU members had called the police purporting to be the Dean of Students.  

The police thought the ZINASU member was working with FSN and the clash led to police accusing the FSN Director for not notifying the police about the workshop. They then arrested FSN Director Evernice Munando together with four other presenters. The Masvingo Polytechnic Dean of Students then called the police and explained to them that he had authorised FSN to work with female students from his institution.

The police who had sat in the community workshop the previous day also testified that FSN was apolitical and had carried out a peaceful, non-partisan workshop with community members. Ms. Munando was then released at around 18.00hrs after thorough questioning and interrogation.

Female students who had attendee the debate were left in great fear as they had never encountered such incidents during FSN workshops before.

FSN condemns unruly behaviour conducted by the students’ organisations as it tarnishes the image of the Network.

In as much as FSN partners with student organisations, the Network wishes to disassociate itself with rowdy activities carried out by these movements. FSN would also like to apologise for any inconvenience this incident might have or is likely to cause to our partners and stakeholders.

Female students on the move

After a series of leadership seminars and workshops, female students are now participating actively at their institutions SRC and even occupying top positions that were usually taken by males.

At Mutare teachers’ College for example, female students managed to assume all top positions, including that of President and Secretary General. At Solusi University, five female students also took part in the recently held SRC elections and four of them succeeded to win.

The workshops have managed to boost female students’ confidence to participate in leadership because students open up to the Network about factors blocking them from getting into leadership. 

 Thembelihle Zulu, a second year Journalism and Media Studies student at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) who is running for the post of president at the institution promises real solutions to the problems that are being faced by her fellow students.

The aspiring NUST president Thembelihle Zulu
 On her manifesto, Thembelihle touches on many issues that affect students in modern day Zimbabwe.

“Many of us struggle to pay our fees. This situation has plagued many but today I bring hope. I am currently in talks with numerous local companies in order to set up the NUST fund. This is going to be a fund that assists in paying fees for students who find themselves in arrears particularly those in the final year so that they may graduate and get their certificates. This fund will be administrated by the S.R.C,” reads part of her manifesto.

The aspiring SRC president further promises that she will make life easier for her fellow colleagues of she is voted for.

“Many students struggle to get attachment places because they might not know here to look. This is usually stressful period for part 3s. In order to ease their burden I have already talked and secured a deal with numerous employment agencies in and around Bulawayo. The agencies will inform the S.R.C of the available positions in different companies and all these shall be posted in the SRC website that I will set up when she gets into office. This is definitely going to go a long way in helping parts 3s get attachment.”

Female students have been shunning leadership positions, citing factors such lack of knowledge and lack of support from other female students, but it seems they are now geared up to assume leadership posts with the knowledge, skills capacity and encouragement they got from Female Students Network.


Tribalism in Matabeleland impedes female students’ participation in leadership

Female students have sited challenges that affect their participation in leadership, but who would have ever thought that tribalism could be one of them!

Shocking revelations of tribalism in Matabeleland tertiary institutions have emerged during Leadership Sensitisation workshops carried out by Female Students Network (FSN), with the support of Students and Academics International Help Fund (SAIH).

Female students at Joshua Mqabuko Polytechnic College say the situation has dampened their participatory attitude and made them shy away from getting into leadership positions.

Gwanda is a predominantly Ndebele area mixed with Suthu. However, most students who learn at JM Poly come from as far as Masvingo and Chinhoyi in Mashonaland province and cannot speak a single word in the local Ndebele language.

The female students said that they would feel like they are getting way too ahead of themselves if they contest for leadership positions in a foreign province where they are discriminated against.

There is also a general belief that the Shona tribe wants to dominate the Ndebele, hence the hostility.

A female student from Bulawayo Polytechnic College said “Sometimes you will be talking to friends that you want to contest in the elections and they will ask why you want to always dominate? Can’t you go and lead where you come from? They say it as a joke but you really see that they mean it.”

There are a lot of tribalism incidences at the college, with some female students claiming that they are made to feel as if they do not belong because they cannot speak Ndebele.

Another female student from JM Polytechnic College said “During lectures, some Ndebele lecturers will say something in Ndebele and other Ndebele students will laugh and he will say he is not going to repeat the statement and that Shona students should learn to speak Ndebele. I for one would love to speak Ndebele but because of this discrimination I am no longer interested in Ndebele,” showing that lecturers are also perpetuating the homophobic attitude.

There are more Shona speaking students in Matabeleland than Ndebele because, according to researches, Ndebeles leave for South Africa (eGoli) to seek for employment immediately after school or even before finishing ordinary level.

The Ndebele people originally come from South Africa and they feel they are more at home down south as they are a product of South Africa.

Another issue is that of the Gukurahundi (destructive cyclone), that left thousands of Ndebeles dead in the 1980s. It seems some Ndebeles never forgave the Shona for that even after their leader; Joshua Nkomo had signed a Unity Accord with Presidents Robert Mugabe. The hatred and division also seem to be moving from generation to generation because most female students were not even born at that time but they are very emotional about the sensitive issue.

FSN conversely encouraged the female students to unite so that they may fight together the patriarchy that exist in the African society, starting at institutional level upwards.


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Regai nditore uno mukana kutenda Female Students Network

Poem by Rumbidzai Mashasha
Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic College

Mauya mukamutsa njere dzedu
Takanga tirere mumagudza chaimo
Taizviziva rini kuti takakosha
Aiwa zvaitwa FSN.

Kuti mukadzi ati pamusoroi
Zvanzi uri hure
Kuti ati bufu
Zvanzi wakadii ukadai
Chokwadi akuruma nzeve ndewako
Nhasi ndazvionera pamhino sefodya
Aiwa matendwa FSN.

Vakadzi ngavae pasi pevarume vavo
Ndiwoka mutemo watinozvwiudza
Ini ndakashata, ini handina basa
Hutungamiri hwobva hwaenda kumadzibaba
Aiwa nhasi ndapa kutenda
Aiwa regai nditore uno mukana kutenda FSN.

Ndatishandisei kodzero dzedu
Sevanhukadzi, tive nhungamiriri dzamangwana
Godo, ngatibvise, nyadzi kure
Iva iwe pachako uve mutungamirir nhasi
Hezvo tapiwa FSN kutipa gwara.

Ko inga Doc (Principal) tinavo, ko Mother (Dean of Students) vatinodya navo mudiro zuva nezuva
Zvazvinongova pachena wani
Chiri mumusakasaka chinozvinzwira
Saka ngatiitei kunzwa nekuita
Sezvo tavapiwa tete vedu FSN
Aiwa maita zvenyu nokutitsika kwenyu.

Rumbidzai Mashasha