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The Zimbabwean Government has recently announced it will push ahead on long standing plans to create a new university named after 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe, aiming to honour the president’s acts in the area of education. The Higher Education Minister, Jonathan Moyo, announced that the to-be-created Robert Gabriel Mugabe University will be a SMART institution, specialising on technology, high-end skills and engineering subjects.
According to several reputed news sources, including the Associated Press (AP), Zimbabwe's Cabinet has approved a total about EUR 850 million (USD 1 billion) in funds to create the university. According to recent statements, most of the money – approx. EUR 670 000 (USD 800 000) – would be used to build the new university in Mazowe, 35 km (20 miles) outside the capital Harare, while approx. EUR 168 000 (USD 200 000) have been set aside for an endowment fund for research and innovation.
The university would be owned by the soon-to-be-established Mugabe Foundation, which would make Robert Mugabe and the county’s first lady, Grace Mugabe, the principal guardians and funding administrators of the institution. And it will be ‘incubated’, in its early-stages, at the University of Zimbabwe, in a joint endeavour between the latter and the Mugabe Foundation.
Naming the university after Robert Mugabe, whose name is associated with authoritarian politics, election campaigns characterised by corruption and civic unrest, violence against political opponents, devastating economic policy, as well as infringements on academic freedoms, has raised wide-speared criticism abroad, as well as internally, from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), to activists, student, teacher and to academic communities. Not only the choice of name, but also the budgetary allocation has created the uproar. The annual budget of Zimbabwe is only four times the allocated amount for the university start-up, the country – with the formal unemployment rate of over 90% - being on the verge of economic collapse.
Reuters - Cash-strapped Zimbabwe plans $1 billion Robert Mugabe university