South Sudanese students occupy embassy in Zimbabwe

Angry students on government scholarships have occupied the South Sudanese embassy in the Zimbabwean capital Harare, to protest at government failure to pay outstanding fee balances.

James Maluach Malek, one of the student leaders, told Radio Tamazuj on Tuesday that 79 students who completed their studies were denied and degrees transcripts due to unpaid outstanding arrears.

We also need food because the universities refused to give us food after the government failed to pay arrears, he said.

Malek said the students are still inside the embassy premise without supplies of food and other essentials.

The number of South Sudan students inside the embassy is about 130. We are students from five different universities in Zimbabwe, said Malek.

He pointed out that the government has failed so far to respond positively to students' demands therefore we will not leave the embassy until our demands are met.

Malek blamed the ministry of higher education for the students' woes.

The South Sudanese embassy in Harare admitted that the embassy was occupied by South Sudanese university student protesters who are inside the embassy premises.

Butros Thok Deng, South Sudan's ambassador to Zimbabwe, said the embassy was aware of the students' demands.

The information we have is that some money has been approved by the council of ministers, and we are just waiting for the government to respond, he said.

I am also coordinating with the universities here so that the students are not expelled from the universities, he added.

The South Sudanese diplomat urged the angry students to return to their universities as the government in Juba tries to fulfill their demands.

In April, South Sudan's higher education minister, Yien Oral Lam said lack of funds at the finance ministry contributed to delays by government to pay for students studying in foreign nations.

South Sudan, where oil revenues make up nearly 98 percent of the budget, has been reeling under economic woes due to years of civil war.

President Salva Kiir and opposition leaders signed a peace deal in September last year.

Source: Radio Tamazuj

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