by Vusumuzi Ngwenya
Student politics is characterized by the most popular candidate triumphing over the candidate with the best policies, possibly the best candidate. The question is, are student voters ill-informed? Is students’ politics less policy oriented? Like our national politics, student politics crucially deserves good policy frameworks that are feasible given the large scope of problems that tertiary students encounter on a daily basis; lack of infrastructural support, lack of academic rigor, extensive financial strain and so forth. So why would, a presumably informed group of interested and rational students fail to choose a deserving candidate?
Before we further dissect this issue; historically, Student Representative Councils in Zimbabwean learning institutions have proven to be ceremonious, toothless bulldogs used to give students false hope of solid representation emancipation. The suppression of student’s voices has been systematic since time immemorial. Moreover, external national political parties constantly contaminate the nature or the race of student politics race thereof. Unfortunately, they have been labelled as generic systems or means by which greedy students appropriate other student’s funds. Thus, politics in higher learning institutions has unfortunately been painted with the same brush, “pointless and worthless, only meant for those with programmes that require less academic engagement and time commitment.
Student politics favours the most popular student, who cares what made her or him popular, does it have a credible link with student’s issues. Such politics says the most socially active student is the most relevant. It’s the elite students that have the loudest voices. Regrettably, such politics focuses on the antagonism between the elite students and those that are genuinely in need; those from poor backgrounds, whose only hope of subsistence is this education. When a candidate buys other students alcohol to perhaps “help” them shy away from their problems for a few hours; that is potentially disastrous, normally these are students sponsored by external political parties. They eventually buy the legitimacy of the direly concerned students, suppress their voices, and fail to lobby for their interests because of the unnecessary buy in.
Today, because the student council has been messed up, a large majority choose not to take part, crucially this portion covers a large majority who are informed and could propose better policy calls and effectively be a voice that we need. Conclusively, students do not fail to choose a better candidate but, because the perception is that S.R.C is a systematically weakened body to better rally and lobby for student’s interests, their voice against the University council is nothing to reckon, can be easily vetoed.
What should be the game changer for us students?