Former UNZASU president Antonio Mwanza says the Minister of Higher Education Nkandu Luo will do well to go back to Tasintha because she is tired of carrying out her government duties.
And Mwanza said it was wrong for the University of Zambia public relations manager Damaseke Chibale to say that ‘UNZA is not for the poor’ when he himself got educated on free education.
Mwanza who is Forum for Democracy and Development spokesperson said this when he featured on the ‘Podium’ on Radio Maria (Yatsani) today.
“The dissolution of union activities at the University of Zambia is totally illegal because if you look at the university act as revised in 1992, the minister of education has no legal right whatsoever to dissolve union activities. So what the minister has done is unilateral, bilaterally, illegal and unacceptable. I’m happy that the Zambia National Students Union has taken this matter to court because there is need to put the minister in the right perspective. Last year, when 8,000 students were initially banned from writing their exams because they had not completed paying their fees, the minister’s response on this issue, was that ‘she is not the minister of UNZA, she is the minister of higher education’,” he observed.
“I want to make a very passionate appeal to his excellency President Edgar Lungu that the minister of higher education is not serving her duty. If she cannot be concerned with what is going on at the University of Zambia then she doesn’t deserve to be the minister of higher education because UNZA is the highest education institution in the land. She can do well to go back to Tasintha, she did a fantastic job there and that is were she belongs. She is tired.”
And Mwanza said he couldn’t believe his ears when he heard the UNZA public relations manager saying the institution was not meant for poor people.
“I couldn’t believe that the public relations manager for UNZA could say that the university is not for the poor. This is the guy who got educated on free education. lomba apunzila, ali nama degrees, ayenza vima motoka vikulu (he has been educated, has degrees, driving big cars) and he comes back and says ‘we should stop this thinking that the University of Zambia is for poor people, this is the university for everyone’. He doesn’t even understand why the university was built. It was not built for rich people. We have private universities and the rich people take their rich kids to those universities. UNZA is a public university. How many people in Bauleni can afford to take their child to UNZA if the fees are K40,000 per year? The numbers are very low,” Mwanza observed.
He said that it is unfortunate that government only listened to the plight of students when they demonstrated.
“I can tell you that riots must be condemned in the strongest form because damage of property is criminal and should not be accepted. But demonstrations at the University of Zambia is the only language that works. The only time that government responds to students plight is when they go to the road side which is very unfortunate.The students needs to be paid their meal allowances but the question is why is government failing to pay them? Are they waiting for them to demonstrate before they pay them. The students will never riot if they are paid their meal allowances. And I tell you that because I have made a lot of demonstrations at UNZA. I used to be in the fore front of the protests. We do not need riots, we want government to simply pay the students what they owe,” Mwanza said.
He said from the cost of one fire tender, government would have educated 1,000 students.
“Education cannot be a preserve of only the rich, it should be for everybody. If you get just one wheelbarrow (fire tender) which cost $1million, as honourable [Lucky] Mulusa calls them, you will be able to sponsor not less than 1,000 students from grade one up to university level. So the money is there, the challenge is where the money is put. There is a lot of wasteful expenditure. We have the budget to which 52 percent of it will go towards administrative costs and only 48 percent will go to issues of development. In short what we have is a budget to pay salaries for people, we don’t have a budget for development. What is development if the majority of the working people are classified as the working poor? What is development if every building in Zambia is about shopping malls selling South African clothes and potatoes? When you have a family of people who are uneducated, you reduce the ability to have income generating activities therefore creating more problems for the family. So the entire generation will have uneducated people. So as we are now, we are creating a society of uneducated people which is a danger as no country has ever developed by having a majority citizens who have been denied education,” Mwanza said.
“The quality of education at UNZA has been compromised because there is a critical shortfall of human resources. The only time lectures are paid is when they riot. We need to remove this corruption that is going on. The University of Zambia used to be a university for the ‘Crème de la crème’. Those students with the best points could go to the University of Zambia. But its no longer the case. Its now ‘Chipante pante’. Because the university needs the fees to operate, they are collecting almost everyone including those with 28 points as long as long as they are able to pay for themselves. We can not have the kind of arrangement were quality does not matter but quantity. Management is also siphoning money from students and parents by deliberately over enrolling students and then finding ways and means to fail as many students as possible.”