"Our demands are simple. We are asking the Vice Chancellor, Dr. Tom Mvuyo to be compassionate to the youngsters and allow them to write their examinations and to activate their meal cards," spokesman Sibanengi Dube said in a statement.

Dube said they had been excluded because they opted to be members of the opposition MDC and not President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.

"The presidential scholarship scheme is bankrolled by the Zimbabwe taxpayers and never by Zanu-PF as a political party and therefore there is no justification whatsoever to punish students.

"These students are at the university at the pleasure of the taxpayers and never on any political patronage," he said.

He said Mvuyo initially asked them to postpone the demonstration, but they were unable to do so without a written withdrawal of threats to exclude students.

He dismissed a call by the chairman of the scholarship board Chris Mushori that students were not supposed to involve themselves in politics.