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THE University of Zimbabwe (UZ) was Tuesday forced to shut down after hundreds of students, infuriated by a strike action by lecturers and catering staff, tried to vent their anger on the institution’s administrators who had to flee for dear life.

In a statement, UZ Registrar, Sergeant Chevo announced the closure of the institution of higher learning which he said was inspired by the unrest.

“The University of Zimbabwe is on recess from 17 March, 2015 to Tuesday 24 March, 2015 in order to address issues that require immediate attention,” he said.

“All students are expected to vacate the halls of residence and the University Campus with immediate effect and by not later than 3.00 pm today, 17 March 2015. Lectures will resume on Wednesday 25 March, 2015.”

The Vice Chancellor Levy Nyagura, who was among besieged university administrators, was seen speeding off the complex with his primary school child in his Toyota Hilux vehicle.

In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com, Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) president Gilbert Mutubuki said the students were angered by the strike and the institution’s temerity to splash on President Robert Mugabe’s birthday bash at the expense of their needs.

“Today the students went to the halls of residence to find no food, they then went to lecture rooms to find no lecturers,” Mutubuki said.

“We then said to ourselves that we have paid more than $900,00 for us to have education and food only for someone to take our money and donate towards some birthday parties of certain politicians and congresses.”

It has emerged the institution flew some of its staffers and student leaders to Victoria Falls to attend President Mugabe’s birthday bash late February.

The strike started with a few students at 8 in the morning but was later joined by hundreds of students who were singing in denunciation of Nyagura.

The students blockaded roads with logs and emptied bins making it virtually impossible for traffic to come in and out of the giant institution.

Police had to deploy water cannon trucks and fire teargas to quill the dicey situation as students ran amok.

Commuter transporters were also forced to speed off the perimeters of the university when they tried to make brisk business out of some faint hearted students who did not want to be messed up in the skirmishes.

“During that time, students had to throw stones at the kombis which were ferrying those cowards home,” said Mutubuki.

“They were easily overwhelmed because we were many and were fighting for their cause when they were trying to leave.”

When NewZimbabwe.com later visited the complex, the place was deserted except for some truckloads of baton wielding cops deployed to prevent a recurrence of the disturbances.

It was not immediately clear if any property was damaged although reports said the hungry students ambushed two Bakers Inn trucks that had come on to campus on routine delivery of bread.

Nyagura’s phone was not reachable while police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said she was not in Harare.

“I am sorry l can’t assist you it’s just that I am travelling. I am not in Harare,” she said.

Tuesday’s skirmishes were the first in years since the traditional hotbed for social and political descent was apparently subdued through state repression.

Source : New Zimbabwe