University of Zambia and Copperbelt University student unions have expressed annoyance at the decision by Higher Education Minister Professor Nkandu Luo to ban squatting.

ZANASU president Joseph Busenga says Professor Luo makes decision without critical thinking.

Meanwhile COBUSU president Njiko Musuku says Professor Luo is interfering in management issues by making emotional decisions.

In an interview with News Diggers! on Monday Busenga said Professor Luo’s decision was calamitous because accommodation was a major crisis in institutions with majority students coming from far places.

“I have always criticised miss Nkandu Luo not because I hate her but because we feel she is always making decisions without thinking critically. If she bans squatting has she provided accommodation because accommodation is a major crisis in many institutions. Even in the country at large, a lot of people are not accommodated, we have a lot street kids and people who don’t own houses and are forced to live in ramshackle,” Busenge said.

“So Nkandu Luo, I don’t know how I can describe her but to me, she fails to think before she talks because she can not ban that [squatting]. If you ban squatting then she must also register a few students at the university of Zambia because if the required number is 2,000, why enrol over 11, 000? where are the rest going to live knowing very well that they are coming from far away places? The decision of Nkandu Luo is a calamitous one and must not be allowed to take effect.”

However, Busenga welcomed the decision to extend the opening days due to poor sanitation but advised that cleaning should not be prolonged.

“Matters of sanitation are very fundamental and if sanitation is poor and students are subjected to such an environment then its a danger to their health. Secondly its a violation of academic freedom because if the environment is not conducive, students will not learn effectively. So as ZANASU, we welcome that decision that has been made. However, cleaning of the university of Zambia, cleaning of CBU should not take centuries. These are places which can be cleaned for two, three days. And what is fundamental are lavatories. If the lavatories could be cleaned then the environment can be habitable because that is the challenge that we are facing,” he said.

“And our position as ZANASU is that if they could build more blocks of restrooms, that would help because students that are enrolled are a lot. The toilets are abused because they were meant for fewer numbers but we have more students who use them. In a nutshell, yes its a welcome idea but the Ministry of Higher Education and government should not hold the students doing nothing. They need to go back to school and continue with their education.”

And Busenge hoped that that the school semesters would be extended to cover up for the lost time.

Meanwhile Musuku said in a separate interview that students needed to know when the universities would reopen so that they could prepare.

“I didn’t want to comment because I would like to meet the minister before I comment on anything, but the decision by the minister to close the institution is a bad one because it will continue affecting students. Students need to know when the institution will open. If students are to stay home for three months, its better you tell them so that they can look for jobs because they are home doing nothing,” said Musuku.

“They can say no squatting but still students will continue squatting. Moreover we don’t have enough accommodation in these public institutions. They are giving more reasons for people who own boarding houses to hike prices because they know students will have no where to go. Let them find an alternative. Its unfortunate that the minister is making such decisions without consulting. The minister is making decisions out of emotion and I advise her to stop. She must stop interfering in management issues. These are issues to be dealt with by management and not the minister. We have international students where will they go. Its actually sad that this is happening.”