In this audio, National Planning and Development Minister Lucky Mulusa says it is unconstitutional for universities to send away students who are about to write exams simply because their parents have not paid school fees.

Reacting to the decision by the University of Zambia’s decision to bar over 850 students with outstanding balances from writing examinations next month, Mulusa said there were many ways of collecting fees without inconveniencing students.

“I was shocked yesterday to read about UNZASU (University of Zambia Students Union) saying, they support blocking of students who haven’t paid their school fees from writing exams. It is unconstitutional. The Constitution has got a provision for access to education, both private and public institutions should stop sending away students from because their parents have not paid, refusing them from writing exams because their parents have not paid. It is wrong. There are other means you can use in collecting fees and one of the ways is withholding the results. Somebody will look for the money and come and pay you,” Mulusa said.

Mulusa said institutions of higher learning were actually stealing from students by making them pay for semesters which they never attended.

“In fact institutions of learning are stealing from students because when students are coming to pay, they clear semesters they never attended. Even kids at nursery and primary school, they are being sent away because their parents have not paid. A child has human rights and human rights must be protected especially for children. So as a nation it has become very…we have half baked graduates because of this tendency of sending students away,” Mulusa said.

“The President said please read the constitution, University of Lusaka read the Constitution, when you go back to the university, read the Constitution. You have got no right to send away a child from school because they have not paid school fees. Find other means to collect your money.”

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And Mulusa, who was speaking at a media interactive forum at Intercontinental Hotel under the theme “promoting inclusive growth in Zambia”, urged critics to read the Seventh National Development Plan before rushing to make statements in the media.

“Let me state here that the 7NDP does not require extra funding beyond the funds which have already been envisaged in the roll out up to 2021. It is about a paradigm shift, a mindset shift, you will recall that there was a time when the President was accused of not having a plan of his own at all, what the President said was that ‘I belong to a political party that has an agenda which I am part of and therefore, my plan is continuity with change’,” said Mulusa.

“What the President has brought is a proper sequencing of projects so that they are able to finance each other.”