South Sudanese Students Stranded in Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe

By John Mabil Manyok,

Harare, Zimbabwe

South Sudan Students participating in the sit-in at the embassy said they have suffered shortages of food(Photo credit: supplied/Nyamilepedia)
South Sudan Students participating in the sit-in at the embassy said they have suffered shortages of food(Photo credit: supplied/Nyamilepedia)

October 16, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) — Some of my colleagues and I have been at the Embassy since last weekend. We came to Zimbabwe on a government-sponsored scholarship. We have been here for five years and some months doing different programmes ranging from four to five and a half years depending on the courses. Some were doing undergraduate degree programmes, while others were doing postgraduate courses.

Each one of us applied and was accepted in tandem with their academic credentials. Some of our colleagues graduated sometime back, but were not given their certificates. We, the current batch also finished our programmes and our certificates have also been detained. The reason for the detention of our certificates is that the Government of South Sudan has not paid the fees for four semesters. Therefore, universities decided to detain our academic documents as collateral.

As twenty-eight (28) of us finished the mission, which brought us here, we have been appealing to the Ministry of Higher Education to give us return air tickets and help us access our degrees and transcripts. However, this plea sadly fell on a deaf ear! Our request has borne no fruit whatsoever!

We have been trying to exhaust all the available avenues, but we successfully failed. Our representative, James Maluac has been in touch with the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, but all we have been getting from our Honourable Minister is nothing, but that which throws our hope into nothingness!

While communicating with James, he warned “you know that I don’t have a printing machine to print money for you. For your good information [sic] I will not entertain nonsense from now onwards so that you know the difference.” In this light, the Honourable Minister thinks it needs one to have a machine for printing money to resolve pertinent issues at hand! Well, if the payment cannot be effected promptly, why is it difficult for the Honourable Minister to use a diplomatic approach of writing a commitment letter to the Zimbabwean Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, indicating when and how the payment is going to be effected so that our certificates are released?

As if that was not enough, the kind Honourable Minister gave a stomach-draining warning that he would not entertain anything from students. He has reached a shocking extent of not responding to any message from students. As a matter of fact, the good Honourable Minister has succeeded in digging a wide schism between him and the very people he ought to serve. This shows his regrettably unfortunate difference from Hon Denay, former Minister of Higher Education. Hon Denay would talk and attend to any urgent matter when he was in the same office. An effective way of communication makes a good leader. One wonders if the current Minister of Higher Education could hold that office were we, the students not there.

Kindly, we appeal to the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to promptly, intervene in this issue. We need return tickets to Juba because we successfully finished the mission that brought us to Zimbabwe. Some of us are family men and breadwinners. For that matter, we are appealing to the Government of South to provide twenty-eight students with return tickets. The students have been at the Embassy for about five days without food and the situation is egregiously indescribable! Equally sad, those who finished their studies stand a peril of missing further studies and jobs.

In this case, two available alternatives could resolve these two main issues to save this glaring situation namely: Firstly, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology should write a commitment letter appealing to the counterpart Ministry of Higher Education in Zimbabwe so that the same Ministry will give instructions to the seven universities, where South Sudanese students did and others are still pursuing their programmes so that they can release the certificates as the payment will be effected anytime because bilateral agreements are more important than the detention of the certificates.

Secondly, the Ministries of Finance and Higher Education need to promptly book a group air ticket, which would be cheaper and quicker than individuals’ tickets. By so doing, the students will not be left at the mercy of starvation at the Embassy of South Sudan to Zimbabwe!

The writer did his Bachelor of Laws (LLB) Honours degree (five-year programme) at Midlands State University and could be reached via: johnmabilmanyok@gmail.com

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