Luo lifts squatting ban at UNZA

Higher education minister Nkandu Luo at the Youth Day celebrations in Lusaka-picture by Tenson Mkhala

Minister of Higher Education Professor Nkandu Luo has allowed squatting at the University of Zambia but students are banned from charging squatees.

And Prof Luo says Copperbelt University Vice Chancellor Professor Naison Ngoma will not be removed because lecturers and other unions are demonising him for no good reason.

Meanwhile, Prof Luo has charged that a former Kwame Nkrumah acting vice chancellor paid herself allowances worth 738 days when a year is made up of 365 days.

Speaking when she met students’ representatives, Tuesday, Prof Luo allowed squatting at UNZA saying four was the maximum number of students allowed to stay in one room.

“Whoever is going to keep someone should submit their name so that when I pass there at midnight and find 100 squatters, I will say ‘we have only recorded two here, how come there is 20 here?’ So that we document this and submit to the Dean of Students. We will start from there so that as you are going to school you also have a piece of mind. The suggestion that I got from yourselves is that can you at least allow four, that’s why we have talked about the issue of bunk beds…there should be no charging,” she said.

“Once bunk beds are in place, one room will be assigned to four people so that it is official.”

And Prof Luo said Prof Ngoma would not be fired from his position because he had done a lot for the institution.

“The impasse at CBU, the lecturers are complaining that the VC travels too much, the graduate school has gone down. But the graduate school has a dean who is supposed to develop it. The work of the VC is very hard, it involves travelling so that he can create partnerships locally and outside. So maybe their case is not going to get to my office because I have said ‘I am not going to see you when you are undermining the very structures I created. Go to the council’ but should that case come to me, I will ask them ‘so you want Ngoma to go, why not the dean? Because that’s where they should have started to say ‘we want the dean to go because the dean is failing to run the graduate school’. The second one is distance courses going down, distance learning has a dean so why start with Ngoma? One individual?” Prof Luo asked.

“In fact, it is the heads of departments that is very critical in all this. So for me, whatever they are arguing about there is a non starter. There is an innovation which Prof Ngoma started where we will be sending 70 students from agriculture to go to Israel on attachment, what better thing can anyone do? And when they are there they are paid a salary so me as government I am not releasing anything to any university…I will not see them because I want what is good for the institution.”

Meanwhile, explained why lecturers at Kwame Nkrumah were told to reapply for their positions.

She charged that a former Kwame Nkrumah Vice Chancellor had paid herself allowances for 738 days when a year only comprised 365 days.

“It took me leaving this office to find students at Nkrumah, in June, writing their lectures in open air. Then today somebody tells me ‘Prof Luo is bad, she has fired all the lecturers at Nkrumah’, fortunately I didn’t fire them but if you want to ask my opinion, the decision is good. And they are paying themselves, the vice-chancellor there paid herself 738 days worth of allowances. When I remover her, ‘Prof Luo is not good’ how can I keep a person like that? A student of UNZA, because she was being paid squatting [fee] so when she became acting vice chancellor for Nkrumah, it was easy for her. Now how many days are in a year? 365 but the acting VC of Kwame Nkrumah paid herself 738 days worth of allowances, all from learning how to be paid on things you don’t own through squatting. So now when you go to work, its easy. Unfortunately, my predecessors never separated lecturers. I had diplomas teaching degree so I wanted to discipline them [but they said] ‘you are not our employer’. ‘Oh, I am not your employer? You are back to [Ministry of] General Education. Me I am going to employ my own’. And now I have the right people there. So nobody has lost their job, I am just doing the right thing,” Prof Luo said.

She also explained why she wanted to ban students’ unions.

“You can’t have 12 people as a union, you can’t. You need leadership up to the grassroots, just the way a country is structured. When I am here, my councillors are there. Whatever will happen in Munali Constituency today, I will know because my councillors are there. Now if you only have President Lungu and Cabinet there, how will you deliver to the country? We can’t. So the same goes to the university. We have to have a leadership up to your hostel level who are representing you. Because your unions, all they talk to me about is BC. When there is a crisis there, then they come ‘minister we would like to see you, you know BC has not been paid’. How many of you are on BC? Very few. The majority are paying for themselves, others are international students, you have sanitation problems, you can’t talk to me about sanitation, it was the cholera that spoke to me about sanitation,” said Prof Luo.

“You have issues of security, who has ever come to talk to me about security? Nobody, why? Because your leadership isn’t talking. Now when I say ‘let’s ban the union because they are not relevant’, [people say] ‘Prof Luo is now stifling us, we can’t talk’. What have you been talking? Nothing! All I have seen is BC. It took cholera coming to this country for all of us to appreciate the standards in which you are living.”

         

Thomas Mulenga

About Thomas Mulenga

Thomas Mulenga is a fourth year Media Studies student at the University of Zambia. He is also a presenter for UNZA Radio's Lusaka Star programme which focuses on politics and current affairs.

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