Zimbabwe National Student Union (ZINASU) was awarded the Student Peace Prize in 2003 for their struggle for student rights and democracy.
In the violent, non-democratic regime of Robert Mugabe, students face oppression and opposition every day because Mugabe considers students and their education as a threat.
Educational crisis in Zimbabwe
In Zimbabwe, student organizations are viewed as a dangerous opposition to the regime. The students’ that fights for their rights are therefore counteracted with all means. Despite this the students of Zimbabwe have not stopped fighting, demonstrating and working to better their situation. Zimbabwe is one of the African countries with the highest literacy rate. It’s know to have some of the best universities in Africa but the quality of education has dropped severely for several decades and the Zimbabweans are now facing educational crisis.
ZINAZU is an umbrella organization, which aims to connect the students of Zimbabwe. They want to promote their interests and views to the educational and political authorities. It represents 350 000 students all over Zimbabwe. They are concerned about human rights question, poverty and AIDS because they believe that national politics is a vital and integrated part of student politics.
Fighting for their student rights
The Zimbabwean government actively pursues political course that are limiting the freedom of speech for students and the academic freedom of universities. In addition, expensive living conditions and school fees makes the prospect of an academic education impossible for most young people.
The government uses all available means to eliminate the threat of ZINASU and infringement and persecution is often used. There have been reports on student leaders and other demonstrators being arrested, beaten, and killed. ZINASU has displayed admirable courage and commitment to their fellow students and the population.
During the presidential election campaign in 2008, ZINASU were involved in the fight for electing the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. They were facing severe threats and physical resistance from the government.
The everyday life of the student activists is very different from what it should be. They experience torture, resistance and killings and have to take difficult choices and sacrifices daily. The Student Peace Prize supports their ongoing fight in defending truth, justice and human rights.
Follow up 2015
This year the ISFIT members have chosen two former winners of the SSP as follow-up areas. Zimbabwe National Union (ZINASU) has been selected as one of the two follow up areas for 2015. ISFIT will assist them with potential challenges they might have and help them with future development.
The committee members of 2003 were as following:
Gro Brækken – Save The Children, Norway
Thorvald Stoltenberg – Norwegian Red Cross
Anne Grosvold – Journalist, NRK
Stein Tønnesson – Director, The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
Anne Marte Klubbene – Student rrepresentative
Alexander Hangaas – Student representative
Ståle Berglund – Student representative
Terje Håkstad – Student representative