High Court Judge Justice Erica Ndewere on Saturday 16 November 2019 nullified the suspension of six Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) students, who had been suspended by the institution for allegedly beating drums during a demonstration over the institution’s failure to supply electricity at the college.
This six students namely Leeroy Barnete, who is the President of HIT’s Student Representative Council, Tafara Mutembedza, Ashlee Makaya, Anesu Chigumadzi, Saviour Machuwaire and Marvin Madamba were suspended on Friday 15 November 2019 by HIT’s Vice-Chancellor Engineer Quinton Kanhukamwe on charges of misconduct for allegedly beating drums and singing in a disruptive manner on Tuesday 12 November 2019 and on Thursday 14 November 2019.
According to some letters of suspension served on Barnete, Mutembedza, Makaya, Chigumadzi, Machuwaire and Madamba, the six students contravened section 3.1.3 of the Rules of Student Conduct and Discipline Ordinance 15, which prohibits disruption of teaching, study, research or administrative work, or prevent any member of the Institute or its staff from carrying out his study or work, or do any act reasonably likely to cause such disruption or prevention.
But Justice Ndewere on Saturday 16 November 2019 nullified the suspension of the six students after their lawyer Kossam Ncube of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) filed an urgent chamber application on Saturday 16 November 2019 challenging the suspension on the basis that it would prejudice the students as they will not be able to write their end of semester examinations scheduled for Monday 18 November 2019 and ending on Friday 29 November 2019.
Ncube protested that the suspension of the students is motivated by ulterior motives ostensibly to ensure that they do not write their end of semester examinations, which they have been preparing for over a long period.
The human rights lawyer argued that the suspension of the students is unlawful and a violation of section 68(1) of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to administrative justice and which provides that “every person has a right to administrative conduct that is lawful, prompt, efficient, reasonable, proportionate, impartial and both substantively and procedurally fair.”
Justice Ndewere ordered HIT to allow the students to write their end of semester examinations.
The nullification of the suspension of the students paves the way for them to sit for their end of semester examinations, which commenced on Monday 18 November 2019 and will end on Friday 29 November 2019.
The order by Justice Ndewere comes less than one week after High Court Judge Justice Joseph Musakwa nullified the expulsion of two Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University (ZEGU) students, who had been expelled from the university on charges of gross misconduct arising from an unlawful and unprocedural demonstration held at the university campus in April.
The two ZEGU students namely Pride Dzapasi and Chamunorwa Chingwe, who were represented by Obey Shava of ZLHR, had been expelled from the university by Dr Gift Mugano, ZEGU’s Acting Vice-Chancellor on Friday 8 November 2019, which was the eve of commencement of their end of semester examinations thereby rendering them ineligible to sit for their examinations which commenced on Monday 11 November 2019.
According to the expulsion letter, Dzapasi and Chingwe contravened section 32.4 of the ZEGU Students’ Handbook by engaging in conduct likely to be harmful to the interests of the university when they questioned the university’s fees increment during a consultation meeting held with the Registrar of ZEGU.
But Justice Musakwa on Monday 11 November 2019 nullified the expulsion of Dzapasi and Chingwe after they engaged Shava, who filed an urgent chamber application on Saturday 9 November 2019 challenging their expulsion from ZEGU. The nullification of the students’ expulsion enabled them to sit for their end of semester examinations, which commenced on Monday 11 November 2019.