Government has indefinitely closed Kwame Nkrumah University following a standoff between management and lecturers over unpaid dues.
Addressing irate students at the old graduation square, Mulungushi University Dean of Students Affairs, Dr Mpande Siachaba asked students to vacate the university premises by midday, Monday, saying management would communicate an opening date.
“When we met with your student union leaders on Saturday, there were mainly two burning issues. The first one is how you would get back to your homes and the second one, was why you are being sent away. We had a meeting as management this morning and we reached a decision that the institution has no money, so you have to contact your sponsors how you reach your homes. I know some of you may be referring to UNZA were the students were given some money to get to their homes after the institution closed prematurely. UNZA students are sponsored by government, but here at Nkrumah it is not like that. Therefore, make arrangements with your sponsors on your transportation home,” Dr Siachaba said.
He said, amidst jeers from students, that lecturers had resolved not to teach until they were paid and therefore, as management they could not keep the students on campus under such an environment.
“We don’t know for now how this issue of lecturers shall be resolved and we cannot keep you in a situation where you are not learning. So for now all of you are supposed to leave. Leave the campus by mid-day. We don’t want a situation where we chase you out of the rooms. So leave properly,” said Dr Siachaba.
On Friday last week lecturers threatened to down tools if they were not paid for work done during last year’s distance residential programme.
On the same day, received the following sms: “Due to unforeseen events, we advise you to clear campus starting tomorrow. Please leave campus before 10:00 hours Monday, 12 February 2018. We will communicate new opening dates.”
Meanwhile, the Zambia National Union of Teachers (ZNUT) in central province says government should not bury its head in the sand and pretend not to be aware of the challenges at the institution because all is not well at Nkrumah University.
ZNUT central Province coordinator, Emmerson Pukuma said it is unacceptable for one person to run two big universities.
Pukuma charged that Higher education Minister, Professor Nkandu Luo was too emotional in addressing the challenges that Nkrumah was going through.
“You cannot have one person running two big universities and expect everything to be well. Is it in order to get even clerical officers from Mulungushi University and use them at Nkrumah University? For me this is not normal. It is this thing which is not normal that we want government to address. Most of the lecturers at Kwame Nkrumah University are still under the Ministry of General Education. This is an anomaly that must be addressed quickly. You cannot have lecturers that are still categorised with primary school teachers. Their salary scales are not yet upgraded. We are also appealing to the Minister of Higher Education to learn to consult because this closure has inconvenienced the students and their sponsors,” said Pukuma.