The Ministry of Labour has written to three Copperbelt University unions notifying them of it’s intentions to cancel their certificates if they fail to exculpate themselves within 90 days.
But the Copperbelt University Academics Union says government must not pretend that there is no problem at the institution.
In a letter dated January 18, the ministry told the Copperbelt University Senior Administrative, Professional and Technical Staff Union, the Copperbelt University Workers Union and the Copperbelt University Academics Union that it was disappointing that they connived to lock up CBU vice-chancellor Professor Naison Ngoma in his office, disregarding proper procedure.
“Your actions were contrary to section 101of the Industrial and Labour Relations Act that stipulates that no employee, trade union or other persons shall take part in a strike which has not been authorised by a strike ballot taken in a manner provided by the constitution of the Trade Union under the Act,” read the letter.
But in an interview, Copperbelt University Academics Union president Dr Derrick Ntalasha said the allegations were not based on truth and insisted that the workers wanted Prof Ngoma to step down.
“For us it is clear, the issues they brought up were that we had an illegal strike but we were working and it was only after the general meeting that people went to notify the vice-chancellor that they had passed a vote of no confidence. These are allegations that are not based on truth, they are just mental machinations and as workers we are resolved that Professor Ngoma has mismanaged the university and he should resign on moral grounds,” Dr Ntalasha said.
Asked why there was resistance from government to hear their grievances on Prof Ngoma, Dr Ntalasha said; “The issue here is that people are not being factual or truthful. It is important that people don’t just talk from outside, they need to see what is happening at CBU. You probably have seen the honourable member of parliament for Kwacha [Joe] Malanji, he came and he looked at the situation. Professor Nkandu Luo came the other day, she saw the situation and this is why we are still closed. And these are some of the complaints we have to say look, the environment is not befitting to be a university and we need those issues addressed. So if someone is going to say they have no problem with that, they are trying to act like an ostrich and pretend there is no problem at CBU.”
Recently, hundreds of CBU workers and lecturers locked up Prof Ngoma in his office as they sung songs of disapproval of his leadership.
But Higher Education Permanent Secretary Mabvuto Sakala said government had no issues with Prof Ngoma.
“For us as a ministry we have no problem with the vice chancellor and we have not had any representation from the union. We are not going to be dismissing people just because people have said ‘this one should step down’. There are procedures that are followed and we have not had any representation on why they want the vice chancellor to resign and they have not followed the right channels, if anything. So we don’t know what the issue is all about. For us we don’t have any issue with the vice chancellor and his performance,” said Sakala.