UNZA strike in day 7, as lecturers demand K300m

The University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) has vowed to continue their go-slow until government and management give them a clear road map on how they pay over K300 million owed to them.

And Higher Education Minister Professor Nkandu Luo has suspended all students’ union activities at UNZA owing to the ongoing riots.

But FDD spokesperson Antonio Mwanza says the situation at the institution is an indicator of a failed education system.

UNZALARU president Dr Evance Lampi said a meeting with stakeholders yesterday did not yield positive results, forcing the lecturers to continue with the go slow.

Lecturers are owed over K300 million in unpaid gratuities and other benefits dating back to 2010.

And Prof Luo all activities of the University of Zambia Students Union(UNZASU); halting all plans for the forth coming elections to usher in new union leaders.

Prof Luo accused students who were campaigning to take over UNZASU leadership of spearheading the protests.

For the past two days, students have been exchanging stones and tear gas with police officers during their protests against the go slow by lecturers, delayed payment of accommodation and project allowance as well as eviction of unregistered students from rooms.

Lusaka Province police commissioner Nelson Phiri said in an interview this morning that calm had been restored at UNZA and no student had been nabbed for riotous behavior.

Meanwhile, Mwanza, who is a former UNZASU president, said the situation at the highest learning institution in the country was symptomatic of a failed education system.

“Having saved as UNZASU President, I had the honour and privilege to sit on the University Council which is the governing organ of the University of Zambia and I learnt first-hand the problems and causes of the problems at UNZA, be it delayed disbursement of meal allowances, lecturer’s salaries, support staff, retirees’ benefits to the shortage of library space, lecture theatres and accommodation space for both students and lecturers. The major cause of students’ unrest, industrial strife and the general decay in the quality of learning and teaching at UNZA is the perennial underfunding of the University in particular and the Ministry of Education in general by successive governments,” Mwanza said in a statement.

“The University of Zambia as a public institution, relies on the state coffers for funding. And the failure by successive governments to adequately fund the university has been the root of all the riots, vivas, go-slows, class boycotts and all other forms of protests which has heavily derailed students’ progress and contributed to the worsening brain drain. The solution to the crises at UNZA is two-fold: one, government must priortise education and adequately fund UNZA and indeed all other public institutions. Two, UNZA must be run by ambitious, astute and smart managers and administrators and not hardcore academicians as the case is; UNZA needs a management that is shrewd enough to look outside the box and use the existing infrastructure, human resource, businesses, land and other capital assets to venture into productive businesses and deals that must help the institution raise excess revenue for it to operate smoothly.”

Thomas Mulenga

About Thomas Mulenga

Thomas Mulenga is a third year Media Studies student at the University of Zambia. He is also a presenter for UNZA Radio's Lusaka Star programme which focuses on politics and current affairs.

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