University of Zambia (UNZA) Vice Chancellor Professor Luke Mumba says lecturers will be paid their January salaries by today.

Early this week, UNZA professional unions issued a joint statement complaining about delayed payments at the institution and warning of anarchy.

But in an interview, Prof Mumba said efficiency in paying lecturers’ salaries was dependent upon timely release of government’s grant to the institution.

“We have been in touch with them (UNZALARU) to explain but we are doing everything possible to get the monthly grants because it is from the monthly grants that we get 30 per cent of the salary and then as management we have to find the 70 per cent shortfall and they know this. If the grant doesn’t come, it’s a bit difficult for us to pay salaries but the good news is that we should begin paying salaries maybe before the end of the day today, because the grant was released from finance to our ministry yesterday (Wednesday) and then there is just an administrative process for the grant to be disbursed to the university account with Zanaco,” Prof Mumba said.

“So I think Friday most people should be paid by tomorrow (Friday), we could start today but their concerns are valid. It’s very hard for people to go especially in the month of January when they have so many commitments without a salary. But our hands as management are also tied because we do not have extra income, extra reserve or resources to be able to pay salaries when the grant is not available. That is the challenge we have. It (getting of an overdraft from the bank) is still in effect but it falls out when the grant is delayed. For example we last paid salaries in December [and] now to be able to pay salaries for December, we need to have the grant for December on time. So if the grant is not released, we are not able to liquidate the overdraft. So Zanaco cannot pay us two salaries in roll without us liquidating the previous overdraft.”

Prof Mumba said he hoped the threats of anarchy from the unions would be put aside.

“So now that we have received the grant, we are going to pay the overdraft for December so that they can give us the salary for January. So we are lagging behind in terms of settling that overdraft. So as soon as we receive the grant, we got to pay the overdraft from the previous month [and] then Zanaco advances us another overdraft. But efficiency is dependent upon timely release of the grant because look, if we said we are going to pay salaries by final day of every month, and if we are in good books with Zanaco we were going to be given another overdraft but if we have delayed in remitting the previous overdraft, they cannot give us. So we hope that the threat from the academic union and other members will be put to rest. Come next month, we can get the grant in good time so that there is no disruption in academic activities,” said Prof Mumba.