UNZALARU’s concerns are real, they should be heard, says CCZ

Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) general secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya says the government’s decision to revoke the recognition agreement between the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) and the University of Zambia (UNZA) management was ill-timed.

Fr Chikoya said the decision taken by the government to silence UNZALARU was not the best action to take when resolving matters.

He said UNZALURU had legitimate grievances that needed to heard by government.

“I think from the church perspective, ideally we would like to see situations where differences are amicably resolved. If you ask me, ‘are there legitimate grievances that the UNZALARU is dealing with?’ Yes, they are legitimate! When issues are not properly and timely attended to and addressed, they will lead to agitation and people are bound to sometimes either be excessive in terms of their language and all those sort of things. What we would like to see is a situation where there is constant engagement and issues of banning unions really should be a last resort. I don’t think in this case, it has reached a level where the union should be banned,” Fr Chikoya said.

He said the revocation of the recognition agreement for UNZALARU breeds ground for speculation as the action taken would create unnecessary tension.

“It breeds ground for speculation. So let workers be represented by people who are capable to represent them and issues of differences should be amicably resolved and in this case, we call for the re-engagement so that we don’t create unnecessary prolonged tensions because it is one thing to deregister; you are dealing with so many other stakeholders. So we feel a lot more in terms of engagement can be [done]. Room for more engagement should be created so that the matter is resolved. We should be able to throw a deaf ear on this matter,” said Fr Chikoya.

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Dr. Makasa Kasonde (Private Citizen)
Dr. Makasa Kasonde (Private Citizen)

In this conflict situation, there was need to identify alleged transgression and transgressor. The first alleged transgression was the belated payment of arrears and salaries to academic staff represented by UNZALARU. The real transgressor here was not UNZA Management per se as alleged by UNZALARU and its supporters because UNZA salary and arrears payments originate from National Budget through the Treasury. Therefore, the real transgressor was a complex entity in which the status of the economy of the country played a leading role. Poor counties were notorious for late payment of salaries and arrears. There was simply no cash readily… Read more »

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