Those who want to study witchcraft can set up their own private universities for that because we won’t offer such courses in our institutions at the moment, says Minister of Higher Education Professor Nkandu Luo.

Prof Luo was responding to a question from Mufulira PF member of parliament Evans Chibanda who wanted to know why government could not introduce the witchcraft program at Public Universities across Zambia.

She said witchcraft is a crime and therefore, it cannot be introduced as a course at public institutions, encouraging those who wanted to study it to set up their own universities.

“I may not be able to define witchcraft because I have to use the English dictionary to define it, and what I can says is the reason why in Zambia witchcraft is a crime is that because it is perceived to harm people. And this is why it is a crime and we do not entertain it in Zambia. However, I have been informed by the minister of justice that there is some attempt to actually look at the Witchcraft Act so that it is redefined with the current times. I came here to clarify the program that we are doing at the University of Zambia and I did not come here to talk about a program that is not there. We in the university are going to be doing a program that will be documenting intangible heritage and also looking at how we can preserve the intangible heritage. That’s what we are doing but for people to be writing on social media, let me also take advantage of the fact that what was on social media even had people’s names being mentioned and think that is not right. And that why for me it was important that as a responsible minister of higher education to come and put to rest the negative things that were going through the media,” she said.

“But if there are those that want to be studying witchcraft, we now have private universities that we have allowed for people who feel like setting up a University, they can set it up. If a community want to set up a university they can set it up. And then they can go and start witchcraft activities. For us in our universities for now, we are only going to do that which I described. And then if you go and study that, the law will follow you. Because at the moment in Zambia witchcraft is illegal. So don’t push the University of Zambia or any other public institution that I am responsible for to be breaking the law. So I want everybody to know that there is no witchcraft studies that are taking place at our institutions, there is no training program that will be training witches and there is no program at the University of Zambia where professor Nkandu Luo is the Dean of the School of Witchcraft.”

Prof Luo said that the ministry would give bursaries to journalists who intended to study at public universities to enhance credible reporting.

“I did mention where the source of this information was. It was from Hot FM and then everybody else picked it up. But I think for me, its not targeting any media house, I think it is getting people in this country who are responsible for revolting through the media and especially social media to be exposed to some kind of ethics and responsibilities. This is one case but there are many other cases. That is why I targeted science, because one of the times when they misquoted, it wasn’t the same media house it was a different media house. And for science, I think it is important that people who are going to report on science are grounded so that they understand science. Because science is not an easy subject. And since I am responsible for bursaries, those who will be interested in bursaries, I will ensure that they get a bursary so that they can report responsibly,” said Prof Luo.