University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) secretary general Dr Kelvin Mambwe says government only paid K23 million out of the K101 million that was budgeted for in the 2018 national budget to settle pension and gratuities debt owed to lecturers and researchers at the institution.

In an interview, Dr Mambwe said government was not committed to liquidating the debt that it owed to lecturers.

“There is no big problem with salaries at the moment, the main issue is concerning pensions and gratuities. Last year, government had budgeted about K101 million for the University of Zambia, but out of that amount, only K23 million has been released. And they have not explained where the rest of the money which they budgeted for has gone. That has caused serious anxieties amongst our members and has potential for continued industrial disputes, we will, however, go ahead with work as schools open. We are supposed to meet the Permanent Secretary this coming month in order to understand why government only released K23 million out of the K101 million that was budgeted for in last year’s budget,” Dr Mambwe said.

“Also if you look at this year’s (2019) budget, we were told that Cabinet had approved a financing strategy that required that this year’s budget reflects about K500 million, but if you look at the actual figures in the 2019 budget, there is only K69 million, so we don’t understand how government is going to liquidate the debt owed to our members.”

He said this would continue being a recipe for strikes by lecturers.

“In fact, I would say that there is no commitment on the part of government. Because if on one hand they say they are going to give K500 million, but what comes in the budget is less than that, then where is the commitment? In fact, that in itself is a recipe for continued strikes at the University of Zambia. So, you will still see some serious challenges as the year begins, such as work stoppages and the like, not until government comes to terms with their commitment,” cautioned Dr Mambwe.