The University of Zambia has directed all departments intending to hold workshops to host them within institutional premises in order to avoid incurring further debt.

And University of Zambia Public Relations Manager Damasake Chibale said government has agreed to liquidate the K2.5 billion debt which the institution owes in various forms.

Chibale told News Diggers! in an interview that Gradure Properties (East Park Mall proprietor) had given the institution US$3 million as advance payment which would be used to construct two lecture theatres.

“We have a memo which has been issued that workshops should be done within the University of Zambia premises, unless it is approved by the vice chancellor’s office that such a workshop could be held outside the University of Zambia. The other workshops that can be held outside are those that we have in partnership with other international organizations that do come and help partner with us for specific purposes. This it to avoid any debts incurring in future,” Chibale said.

“On the part of the debt, we are glad to announce that government has come in to liquidate debt. And it’s not only for the University of Zambia, but all the three public universities. All these have debt which includes the retirement packages for staff that have indeed retired, gratuities for those who were working on contracts basis and then we also have statutory legal payments like payments to ZRA, NAPSA, Compensation fund as well as our suppliers and their debtors. So for the University of Zambia, this has come up to over K2.5 billion. So government has agreed to phase out this debt for the period of three years and it is expected to be liquidated by 2020.”

Asked if it was true that some retirees had not received their retirements packages for over eight years, Chibale replied in the affirmative.

“Yes it is true. As the University of Zambia, we have three unions. We have UNZALARU, we have UNZAPROSU, we have UNZAWHO. So all of these, there members have not been paid for some time now. And so we are more confident that government is going to liquidate that because all the necessary conditions have been put in place. The committee that is suppose to oversee this has already been put in place and recommendations have been adopted by government. So what is remaining now is just the disbursement of funds,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chibale said the institution had received US$3 million from Gradure properties as advance payment.

“I would like to mention here that Gradure properties, the owners of East Park Mall gave us an advance payment in terms of rentals amounting to about US$3 million. In this amount, we want to construct two lecture threatres with the capacity of 250-300 students. So we have decided to solve the accommodation project through a three stage approach. The first stage is the bunker bed solution, the second one is the completion of the hostels which are under construction by the Ministry of Higher Education and the third stage which is a long term approach, to construct more hostels through the private public partnership approach,” explained Chibale.

“The short term solution is actually to install bunker beds in the hostels which should provide four bed spaces in each room. And the procurement process has begun so that we can actually start installing these bunker beds. We expect to have 4,100 new bed spaces and then we also expect a thousand new bed spaces at our Ridgeway campus. And then once that is done, we will start phasing out the banker bed solution.