Copperbelt University Dean of students at the School of Mines and Mineral Sciences Dr Kawunga Nyirenda has written to the Registrar of the institution to cancel his US$5,700 scheduled trip to Israel saying that it is costly and not to the interest of the public.

In his letter dated 12th January 2018 addressed to the school Registrar, Dr Nyirenda said there was no justification to such a huge amount to be spent on a seminar in Israel.

And Dr Nyirenda says no lecturer or staff at the university should be victimised or reported to police for protesting against vice-chancellor Professor Naison Ngoma saying that the protest was in accordance with the law.

“As you are aware madam, the University community has rightly protested against a number of issues which are affecting the Copperbelt University. Among the issues raised by the three stakeholder unions and the entire university community is the fact that monies to be spent on the trip to Israel scheduled for 24th of January to the 6th of February 2018 are too huge and could be prudently used to alleviate some of the problems affecting the Copperbelt University. I was earlier made to believe that the total cost for all the participants from CBU was USD5,700. It has now come to my attention and (I have verified that this cost is only per participant and that a copy is attached herewith for your easy of reference); there is therefore not justification madam to this huge amount to be spent on this seminar,” read part of Dr Nyirenda’s letter.

“Besides demanding for the resignation of the vice chancellor, Professor Naison Ngoma, the workers have highlighted the dilapidated state of our classrooms, they have pointed all of us to the office at the school of Mathematics and Natural Sciences which are covered with a funeral tent, the liking and cracked lecture rooms at the school of Business, the lack of laboratory equipment and consumables, the bad centralised nature of the procurement and finance management systems, Sciences; lack of office space for lecturers, non payment of pensions to retired lecturers including myself, non payment of gratuities, and perpetual delay in payment of monthly salaries to the workers.”

Dr Nyirenda also stated that he would quickly resign from his position if the issues raised by lecturers were to demand for him to do so.

“You will agree with me madam that the issues raised by our staff are very right, genuine and require self introspection on all of us. Further, the issues raised by our members of staff must not be politicised but they need honest consideration from all of us in management positions. Secondly, I have perused through the constitution of the Republic of Zambia, the Bill of Rights Section 34 as read with section 39. Section 39 of the Bill of Rights states and I quote verbatim, ‘A person has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, demonstrate or picket and present petitions to State organs and State institutions’,” stated Dr Nyirenda.

“I am therefore satisfied that the protests by the lecturers and other staff against the vice-chancellor and against my trip to Israel have been done in accordance with the laws of Zambia and no one among our staff should therefore be victimised or reported to the police. If these issues raise and the protests were to result in a demand for me to vacate my office of responsibility as Dean of School, I would quickly resign without having to go to the media to justify myself and seek defence. No bad precedence would be set except a good precedent of resignation.”

He however stated that he would not be part of the Israel trip and that he had no regret about his decision.

“Therefore after thoughtful and careful reflection, I have come to the realisation that it will be gross irresponsibility for me to travel to Israel at such a huge cost amidst all the challenges that have been highlighted by the CBU staff. Further, it will also be against my values and principles. I therefore have got no regret whatsoever in informing you that I shall not be part of the team traveling to Israel. May I also take this opportunity to advise you and others to cancel this trip as it will not be in the interest of the University. By copy of this letter, the bursar is requesting to cancel all payments due to me for this trip and the chief internal auditor is accordingly informed,” stated Dr Nyirenda.