Ministry of Higher Education permanent secretary Mabvuto Sakala says there is nothing government can do about the disturbance in academic calendars for UNZA and CBU.
And Sakala says students who are affected by the ban on squatting must move to boarding houses which are close to their institutions of learning.
In an interview, Sakala said government was not happy about the indefinite closure of the two institutions but it would not open them without proper sanitation.
“They have to clean the institutions. Do they [students] want to go and die? They want the universities to open and then go and die? We are not happy to close the institutions because its a cost to government. There is cholera epidemic. We have to make sure that their institutions are in a good state of sanitation. They are the same people who were complaining that the sanitation is poor. We are giving them an opportunity for the institutions to be cleaned up so that when they go there everything will okay. If the institutions does not meet test by the public health inspectors then they can not open simple as that. So whether it affects the academic calendar or not, its neither here nor there. There is nothing we can do about it,” Sakala said.
“UNZA has not passed the test, CBU has not passed the test so until they meet those standards that’s when they are going to open. There is no specific date unless they clean up. It could be tomorrow. Until they meet the standards so we can not say we are opening today or tomorrow. There was already an inspection this week, they are going to inspect UNZA on Tuesday. So if UNZA meets the standards on Tuesday there will be an announcement when they are going to open. If CBU meets the standards for the second inspection there will be an announcement when they are going to open.”
Sakala advised health inspectors to also screen private universities.
“We are not doing this deliberately. We have no pleasure in closing these institutions. What we are doing is for the benefits of the students. There is no benefit for government to close the higher institutions of learning. We need graduates. But we are not going to risk lives of young people simply because they want to open and they want to finish. We want to make sure that the environment is right for them. We have not closed it for riots, unruly behaviour, we have closed it based on health grounds and the cholera situation that is prevailing. The public health inspectors need to go even to the private universities to inspect them. So its not only applying to UNZA and CBU. It is applying to all institutions. So that announcement that these institutions are opening, its not a blanket authority that all of them are opening, no. If they pass the inspections then they are going to open. The cholera outbreak will be less than Kanyama because those people [students] are all confined in a very small area and we will not be able to control it and that’s why we are making sure that all sanitary facilities are improved,” he said.
And Sakala said all unaccomodated students were expected to live in boarding houses.
“It will affect [students] but there are boarding houses around there people will find a way but we are doing it for the benefit of the children. We can not have 12 people sleeping in one room which is meant for two people. How? Its also a recipe for disaster because there is congestion,” said Sakala.