On September 1, 2017, officials at Great Zimbabwe University (GZU), in Masvingo, reportedly suspended Kudakwashe Joakim Mugapu, a student at GZU, apparent in response to a demonstration he was planning.
Sources indicate that Mr. Mugapu and other students had organized a demonstration, scheduled to take place on September 11 at GZU’s law school, to protest several university fees, an amendment to the Student Representative Council (SRC) constitution, and the auditing of SRC’s books. On September 1, GZU’s vice chancellor summoned Mr. Mugapu to his office where he informed him that he was being suspended for one year for allegedly “inciting violence,” apparently in connection with the planned demonstration.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the suspension of a student in retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the right to academic freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of association – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally. Universities have a responsibility to refrain from wrongful disciplinary action taken against students for exercising their rights to academic freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of association.