Hong Kong University confirms "Bona Mugabe" a student

Hong Kong – A Hong Kong university on Tuesday said it had enrolled a student named "Bona Mugabe" but refused to confirm she was the daughter of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.

Meanwhile a second university moved to quash speculation Bona Mugabe was studying there after reports of protests by students in Zimbabwe over her international education.

The controversy comes soon after her mother Grace allegedly attacked a British reporter during a shopping spree in the southern Chinese city as a London-based newspaper said the family has a luxury home here.

A spokesperson for Hong Kong’s City University said the student in question had met normal admission requirements and her enrolment was not influenced by her parentage.

"The student followed general procedures to apply to enter our programme, and met our admission requirements applicable to all applicants," she said in a statement.

Bona Mugabe’s presence would be controversial because her father and his fellow leaders are banned from visiting the United States, the European Union and Australia.

Robert Mugabe’s regime has been internationally condemned for its disregard of human rights and its politically motivated violence targeting opposition and civil activists.

Australia last year deported eight Zimbabwean students with parents linked to his government, saying it wanted to prevent those involved in human rights abuses from giving their children the education denied to ordinary citizens.

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) on Tuesday moved to distance itself from the controversy, denying a report that Bona Mugabe was enrolled there.

"We do not have a student by the name of Bona Mugabe on our student register, and we do not have any lady student from Zimbabwe who is reading for an undergraduate programme or is at the age of around 20," HKU said in a statement.

HKU said it issued the clarification after hearing reports that Zimbabwe students had been jailed for protesting to the Chinese embassy that Bona Mugabe should return home and study in the same conditions as her peers.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said on Tuesday she was not aware of the Mugabes’ alleged house purchase and would not comment further. – AFP