HARARE West MP, Jessie Majome (MDC-T) last week gave a heart-breaking description of Zimbabwean students in Algeria, who are starving due to the government’s failure to release their $3 000 yearly stipends.
Majome introduced a motion in the National Assembly on the plight of the students after some of them wrote to her seeking Parliament’s intervention.
She said the conditions of the scholarship programme were that the Algerian government paid tuition fees, while the Zimbabwean government paid each student a yearly stipend of $3 000.
“The scholarships are meant for students from disadvantaged families and so our government decided to give them stipends of $3 000 every year, however, it turned out that no such money was disbursed since 2015,” she said.
“As at December 2017, there were 460 Zimbabwean students in Algeria on the scholarship programme and I understand at the start of another year 60 more students joined.”
Majome said life for the students had become difficult because the government failed to release any stipends for the 2016/17 years, while only a quarter of the $3 000 was paid for 2015/16.
“The letter from the female student said we are now suffering and living like beggars, and our permits were written strictly education, and some of our Zimbabwean boys work at industries, where they are paid $4 per day for nine hours and at times they are arrested after being perceived as illegal immigrants,” she said.
Majome said the students experienced hell whenever colleges were closed as they were supposed to move out of campus and find alternative accommodation.
She said students reported their plight to former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo, who allegedly ignored them. Majome said when they decided to demonstrate outside the Zimbabwean embassy in Algeria, they were roughed up by embassy staff.
The students were now said to be living from hand to mouth, begging from other students from Nigeria and Angola, while some have been slapped with lawsuits for failing to pay off debts after borrowing from colleagues.
Majome said the female students were now exposed to vices like prostitution, adding that the government must act swiftly to pay off their stipends or stop promising things they could not deliver to students.