Professor Nkandu Luo must be dreaming to say that she will compel universities to start displaying pictures and qualifications of all lecturers at the entrance of their institutions because the move is not backed by law, says Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa.

And Prof Lungwangwa, who is a former UNZA deputy vice chancellor, has revealed that Prof Luo also used to moonlight, making it hypocritical for her to condemn lecturers for doing so.

On Tuesday, Prof Luo complained in Parliament that staff in public universities had stopped research because of moonlighting, adding that she would compel universities to start displaying qualifications for all lecturers to encourage them to push for academic excellence.

“From now onwards, for every university to function as a private university, they would have to put at the entrance of their university pictures and qualifications of the full-time staff and they must constitute 75 per cent. That is in our policy statement under the Ministry. That way, our staff in public universities will pay attention to their work, they will also participate in research and will also take a lot of time in looking at innovation and so on,” said Prof Luo.

But in an interview with News Diggers! Prof Lungwangwa, said the Higher Education Minister must understand that universities don’t operate in a vacuum, but that there are laws which govern their operations.

“First of all, is there a law? Because universities don’t operate in a vacuum, they operate in the context of laws governing their operations. Is there any law in this country that dictates that universities must display the qualifications of their members of staff at the entrance of their institutions? If you want to know…academic members of staffs and their qualifications, you go to the academic calendars of the universities. You go to the university calendar of the University of Zambia or any other university, you will find the academic programmes, you will find the academic members of staff, their names and their qualifications listed. That is normal. That is how the universities even market themselves for students; it markets to other institutions through the academic calendars. Not what she is dreaming about, that is unacceptable,” Prof Lungwangwa said.

He charged that Luo’s dictatorial acts had reached an extent where she wanted to order what should be taught in universities.

“This is an unacceptable, dictatorial, heavy-handedness approach of the Minister of Higher Education, Professor Nkandu Luo, in the way that she looks at higher education institutions! There is absolutely no need for this highly heavy-handedness on her part with regard to institutions of higher education. From the look of things, she is even going to the extent of dictating what should be taught [and] what should be researched in the universities. That is not how universities must be governed. Universities must have academic autonomy in terms of determining their academic programmes, which are relevant to society and mankind, determining research activities, which are relevant to society and mankind, and determining the way they ought to be governing themselves,” Prof Lungwangwa added.

“But what we are hearing from Prof Nkandu Luo is a highly dictatorial [and] political governance or control of the universities. I have not seen a university where photographs and qualifications of academic members of staff are displayed at the entrance of the university. Where has that ever happened? So, it means when you have [for example] 3,000 academic members of staff, you have to put up 3,000 photographs and qualifications and so on… that is anarchy and unthinkable! It is shocking and surprising to see that kind of leadership!”

He stressed that moonlighting was allowed the world-over.

“As far as moonlighting is concerned, yes, it happens all over. It is all over the world. If you have private universities, you have public universities; academic members of staff circulate a certain degree in offering their services in various institutions. Even herself [Prof Luo], when she was an academic member of staff, she used to moonlight; she used to do research here and there. So, wasn’t that moonlighting on her part? Yes, it was moonlighting. So, let members of staff who have a little bit of time and can afford to provide services to other institutions, they should be allowed to do so. This dictatorship we are seeing in Prof Nkandu Luo is unacceptable! That is not the way universities ought to be governed,” insisted Prof Lungwangwa.