Rainbow Party General Secretary Wynter Kabimba says Professor Nkandu Luo cannot resolve the problems facing universities because she is too busy competing with lecturers on who is more educated.
In an interview with News Diggers! Monday, Kabimba observed that Prof Luo was not treating lecturers with the respect they deserved.
“The appointment of Prof Luo as Minister of Higher Education can only make things worse. If you are going to have a minister who is going to compete with the lecturers and professors to show that she’s more educated than them and therefore she can be high handed in the manner she administers those institutions, you can’t make progress. The minister is not there to compete with the academic staff. The minister is there to give guidelines through Cabinet to the three institutions that does not seem to be the case. If you watch all her interactions in the last three weeks with the academic staff and students, you don’t get the impression that this is a person who is treating these people with the respect that they deserve. Her position is ‘I am minister and you shall do it my way’,” Kabimba said.
He wondered why Zambia was failing to manage only three universities.
“The situation that we have been in so far as a country is that there has been a complete failure and incompetence to run public universities, it’s very clear. We have three universities as a country, South Africa has 26 universities and yet they are able to run those institutions in a manner that contributes to the development of the country, we have failed to do that in this country,” Kabimba said.
“These universities are heavily burdened with financial debts. The government has failed to finance the three universities. We have neglected the financing of public universities and tried to turn them into private universities by telling them that they must raise their own fees from students that come from very poor families. If these universities had behaved the way they are behaving now by milking the little resources from the poor students, Prof Luo would not be minister today. She would not have gotten the education that she got. But the problem with African educated people is that once we get into positions of power we forget about where we come from ourselves. This is not America where public universities must act as if they are private universities by trying to raise money from poor families. These are universities that are in a poor country, that are in an economy which is inactive, and unproductive. And to insist that the universities must make money from tuition fees is just ridiculous in my view. Colum mines in Sinazongwe two days ago was offering to pay PTA fees to the school because more than half the children there have been withdrawn by their parents because they can’t afford to pay these fees, very small amounts of money. That tells you the state of our economy. The parents are not doing it out of pleasure. And there’s no difference between the Sinazongwe community and the community where those students are coming from. So from our view as the rainbow party, this again is an issue that defines the type of government that should run this country. But as long as we think that this country is going to be developed by developing road infrastructure to the exclusion of academic institutions. You shall not make progress in this country.”
He lamented that the University of Zambia’s global rating had fallen below other competing learning institutions because of poor management.
“The Zambian University is rated 2,000 plus at world level. It is number 55 in Africa. This is a university that used to be one of the top ten in Africa during our time. It has now been relegated to number 55. And the minister is there proud that she’s running these universities in the interest of this country. And posturing around that she is a professor. So the people of Zambia must see the PF for what it is,” said Kabimba.