Modester Zinhanga, a student of the Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University (ZEGU)

High Court rules in favour of ZEGU student who ‘cannot speak ZAOGA tongues’

According to court papers filed on November 10, Zinhanga said she was disqualified for not being a member of the ZAOGA congregation, which runs the university.

THE High Court has ruled in favour of 21-year-old Modester Zinhanga, a student of the Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University (ZEGU) who was disqualified from contesting in the student executive council elections because she could not speak in tongues.

The tertiary learning institution is owned by ZAOGA church.

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The decision to bar Zinhangafrom exercising her constitutional rights to participate in the elections peeved mostly the female students at the institute of higher learning who viewed the move as discriminatory and contradicts core values of the institution as equality.

Dissatisfied with the decision, Zinhanga rushed to High Court suing the university, registrar Innocent Chinyemba and Dean of Students Zachariah Zenguze, who were listed as respondents in the suit seeking an interdict for the elections, accusing ZEGU of illegally barring her from taking part in the elections.

She argued that she was disqualified for not being a member of the ZAOGA congregation, which runs the university. But Justice Webster Chinamora granted the application by Zinhanga ruling that the decision to disqualify Zinhanga was unfair discrimination and a direct violation of section 56 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

“All students who qualify as registered and enrolled with the first respondent (ZEGU) with at least a semester of study at the first respondent have an equal opportunity and equal benefit of the law which must be promoted and protected and must be afforded the equal opportunity to run for elections in the student body,” he said.

“That the decision of respondents should be confined to what the first respondent’s University Charter permits as fair discrimination under the supreme and ultimate guidance of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”

The judge also ruled that the whole section 9 of the students’ handbook 2021 edition was unconstitutional.

In her founding affidavit, Zinhanga said the disqualification is a violation of her rights.

“Grounds for dismissal preferred by the respondents are a clear violation of my rights, and these cannot stand the constitutionality test, irrespective of any argument whatsoever. It is my view that everyone must be afforded an equal chance and benefit of the law as is set out under Section 56 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

“The decision taken by the third respondent is contrary to the purpose of the First Respondent, which as a doyen of intellectual excellence is to prepare young adults for all career paths. Clearly, getting a chance to participate in students and/or governance prepares me and exposes me to the main framework of national politics and governance which is my preferred career path,” she said.

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