Despite an unemployment rate of 90% and rising debts, Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government plans to build a brand new university for $1bn, to be named after its 93-year-old president, Robert Mugabe.
In a decision criticized by the opposition as "populism that defies logic", higher education minister Jonathan Moyo said on Wednesday, 9 August that the "Robert Gabriel Mugabe University" would focus on science and technology and have an institute focusing on research and "transformative and revolutionary leadership", Reuters reports.
"Cabinet has approved a grant of $800 million towards the construction of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe University and a grant of $200 million towards the University Endowment Fund for research and innovation," Moyo said.
Mugabe and his wife Grace (pictured) are the founding trustees of the university to be built outside the capital Harare.
"This is populism that defies logic," Obert Gutu, spokesman for the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said, according to Reuters. "It is meant to stroke Mugabe’s ego because we know this government is broke."
The country’s unemployment rate stood at 90% in May, according to Zimbabwe’s largest workers union, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.
MDC said the government should instead improve existing underfunded universities around the country.
Reuters comments that most Zimbabwean graduates take informal jobs such as hawking goods on the streets or seeking employment in neighbouring countries to pay for their studies.
Zimabwe has been in talks with the International Monetary Fund, which said in May this year that a severe drought and slow reform have led to high government expenditure levels since 2015, despite subdued revenues.
"Excessive government spending, if continued, could exacerbate the cash scarcity, further jeopardise the health of the external and financial sectors, and, ultimately, fuel inflation," the body warned.
Image: Robert and Grace Mugabe (DandjkRoberts/Wikimedia Commons)