Higher Education Minister Professor Nkandu Luo says she has revoked the bursaries of three students who organised a riot last week on Friday.
Professor Luo told Parliament yesterday that students engaging in violence and other criminal activities will be expelled from school because universities were not places for political activities.
“There will be discipline at UNZA and I would like the students at the University of Zambia from today to know that that is not a place for any political party to come and organise them, otherwise they will go to the streets so that they go and join those on the streets. I have already put a precedent for the three students who were organising a riot last Friday, I have removed them from the bursary because I do not want people from the streets at the University of Zambia,” Professor Luo said.
But sources have told News Diggers! that the three students; Lester Ng’ambi, Macdonald Muyabalo and Richard Malambo were being victimized for demanding a financial report from UNZASU and questioning some of Prof Luo’s pronouncements on allowances.
Apart from having their meal allowances revoked, the three students received indefinite suspension letters on March 18 and they appeared before a disciplinary committee yesterday.
“Things are really tense here because most students are scared of speaking out. We have all been warned not to get political here but that’s difficult because there are a lot of things which need to be questioned. For those three you are mentioning, they tried to speak on behalf of the rest of us but they were branded UPND sympathizers and suspended. The minister instructed the dean to take action against them saying they were inciting students. So they are waiting for a decision from the Dean of Students [Lastone Zyambo],” said the sources.
Meanwhile, Prof Luo opposed Mazabuka member of parliament Garry Nkombo’s motion grant bursaries to every students who had applied for it and had already registered at UNZA.
“Mr Speaker, let me tell my colleagues that university education is expensive. University education is a privilege, university education requires thinking through. It’s not about coming here to become passionate about anyone especially those of us who have been to university, we should know better and those held high positions at the University of Zambia should know better and I want to put it clear Mr Speaker by saying in this House that this motion is misplaced. It has no room in the Ministry of Higher Education because we are on course and remember Mr Speaker, I myself I am an Academician and I know exactly what needs to be done,” said Prof Luo.
Professor Luo also said it was about time the two institutions of higher learning in the country reclaimed their positions at international level.
“Secondly, I also want to say that the University of Zambia and the Copperbelt University must reclaim their space at international level, they must go back to what they used to be. I want the University of Zambia to reclaim its position in the world, it was one of the institutions that was celebrated and before it was destroyed by selfish individuals, UNZA used to be celebrated internationally but because of some individuals who became deputy vice chancellors for the institution, they went and destroyed the University,” said Prof Luo.
“And I want people to know through this August House that there shall be discipline at the University of Zambia and anybody who is answering to an admission letter at the University of Zambia that I have already put a precedent of the three students who were organizing a riot last Friday I have removed them from the bursary, I do not want people from the streets at the University of Zambia.”
Earlier, Nkombo presented a petition to the Speaker which was given to him by some affected UNZA students.
“Thank you very much Mr Speaker. I think for avoidance of doubt, I will simply quote a petition which was presented to me, addressed to you sir by students who had applied for bursary but were left out, and I quote ‘we had been left after appealing, after Professor Nkandu Luo instructed us on media to be attending classes while waiting for appeal names only to find out that they picked a small number of students leaving out a huge number of us vulnerable, who have been attending classes, we want to know the stance of government on us the vulnerable students who have been left out. We therefore request government to intervene because Sir, we will not be allowed to sit for examinations without paying’,” Nkombo said.
“Mr Speaker as you have seen, this motion requires the utmost attention most of all by the Minister of Finance because its money related. This motion is non controversial and it can only involve one sort of emotion if one is perfectly normal and that is sympathy. Sir, the issue that I am dealing with here addresses the future leaders of this country. The vulnerable students in first year at the University of Zambia who attended school since January, Sir would like to put on record that I am a product of this issue that is at hand and I want to put it clearly that the government of the day at that time, we were fortunate they gave us one hundred per cent bursary and I know that overtime resources have been scarce but what we are asking is for the Ministry of Finance to create some innovative means of raising money to assist the Ministry of Higher Education with resources to actualize this, simple!”
However, when the motion was brought to a vote, it failed as 87 MPs voted against it whilst 53 voted in favour, with one absentee.