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University of Zimbabwe Shutdown Over Student Protests, Workers' Strike

Police were called to restore order at the University of Zimbabwe after the vice chancellor and other staff members fled following student protests.

The University of Zimbabwe was temporarily closed Tuesday following student protests.

Students were protesting the suspension of their lectures after lecturers and general workers downed tools Monday following the government’s failure to pay them their February salaries and last year’s bonuses.

Riot police were deployed at the UZ after students threatened to manhandle University Vice Chancellor Levy Nyagura, who was forced to flee the campus as temperatures reached boiling point.

The UZ Registrar, Sergeant Chevo, said in a notice that the university is on recess from Tuesday to March 25, 2015, as it seeks to address “issues that require immediate attention.”

Chevo said, “All students are expected to vacate the balls of residence at the university campus with immediate effect … Lectures will resume on Wednesday 25 March, 2015.”

At Midlands State University in Gweru and the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo, the situation remained tense after lecturers and general workers also downed tools.

Tafirenyika Mapfumo of the Zimbabwe Universities and Allied Workers’ Union told VOA Studio 7 LiveTalk they held a meeting with state officials Tuesday and were assured that the outstanding salaries will be paid by Wednesday.

Mapfumo said the workers will meet after getting the salaries and decide the next course of action.

Government, which has a bloated workforce, has been struggling to pay its workers for years.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa says recurrent expenditures for 2015 are expected to dominate overall expenditures at 92 percent leaving eight percent for capital development programmes.

Zimbabwe National Students’ Union president, Gilbert Mutubuki, told VOA Studio 7 that students are disgruntled by the situation at the University of Zimbabwe.

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More than 10,000 workers in state universities downed tools, forcing the national institutions of higher learning to grind to a halt.