President Robert Mugabe on Friday attended the centenary celebration of Fort Hare in South Africa amid protests from students who were not happy with Mr. Mugabe and South African president Jacob Zuma’s presence at the celebrations.
According to press reports, President Mugabe told the students that he was not going to leave office because he wants to prevent regime change.
“I’m hanging on because I want to prevent regime change. It will never come to my country‚” said Mugabe, who received standing ovation.
The president graduated at Fort Hare with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and History in 1951.
Mr. Mugabe said Africans had proven they could run their own affairs. “Let products from here truly represent what our elders sought to make students become in life: Leaders of people who were courageous but educated.”
The protesters confronted the police singing "Asinamali" (we don't have money) and brandishing placards reading "Centenary my a..", “Voetsek Mugabe, Zuma”.
Police used teargas to disperse the students from Zimbabwe and South Africa who wanted to force their way into the hall where Mr. Mugabe, and President Zuma were officiating.
The protests started on Wednesday when students burned down a university building. But Friday they were not given any chance as they were pushed away with water cannons and teargas.
The opposition Zimbabwe People First had written to the college authorities seeking a ban on Mr. Mugabe who they accuse of misusing state money to travel around the globe.
However, the ZimPeople First’s South African branch convener, Lawrence Mavhaire, said the college authorities did not even respond to their request.
“Today Fort Hare was a clear testimony to say that this event has become a celebration of the past and is quite detached from what the current students are going through,” said Mavhaire.
Mavhaire said despite heavy police presence the students, together with local student bodies like the Economic Freedom Fighters, DASO and others, managed to protest.