UPND deputy spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa says what is happening at the university of Zambia and Copperbelt University is symptomatic of a broke, clueless government that is governing by chance without a recovery plan.
And Chief government spokesperson Dora Siliya says government is deeply concerned with the position taken by University of Zambia and Copperbelt University lecturers who have resolved to down tools until their February 2019 salaries are paid.
In a brief note, commenting on the impasse, Siliya who doubles as Minister or Information and Broadcasting Services said tension is not good for education and hoped that Higher Education Minister Prof Nkandu Luo would bring the issue to a logical conclusion.
“Clearly, government is deeply concerned with the situation at the two public institutions. Tension is not good for the learning environment. It is our hope that soon, the minister in charge will bring this matter to a logical conclusion,” said Siliya.
But Mweetwa, who is also Choma Central member of parliament, reminded government that UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema warned of this crisis when the PF was “struggling to control its appetite for borrowing”.
“What is happening at UNZA and CBU is symptomatic of the state of governance and the state of the economy. You must be aware that it is not only UNZA and CBU that have gone unpaid, except that these two institutions have felt that they can’t take any more than they have already gone through. They have suffered, if you go at the University of Zambia now, it’s a sorry sight. But there are others. People who are in employment at institutions such as Zampost, National Housing Authority and others are not being paid,” Mweetwa observed.
“This government is so broke that it is failing to pay public workers at the same time. Some civil servants have just been paid their February salaries after mounting pressure on government. These guys have no money now, but we told the PF a few years ago that the way they are managing the economy, they will soon have a liquidity crunch in the nation, there will be no money. When we told them that, they said ‘HH is just being bitter’. Can they now still be able to say HH was bitter with what he was telling them or he was telling them the truth?”
He said winning elections by dubious means was no guarantee that the party would manage the economy.
“There are no two ways of governing a country, you don’t govern a country by emotion or by accident. You govern a county by bringing about economic development through well planned policies that are in sync with the capacities of those why are charged with the responsibility of governance. It’s not just about stealing votes and saying we have won the elections now we are going to govern because we have a mandate. A mandate should have with itself a skill-set commensurate with the demands and requirements for national governance and economic management. That is what is absent in the PF, that is why you are seeing universities now reaching those levels,” Mweetwa said.
“Right now the Republic of Zambia is struggling to meet its debt obligations, and those governing the country have no recovery plan. Instead they continue to borrow. What about the few years to come when some of the biggest loans they got begin to yield, what will happen? So Zambians need to brace themselves for harder times to come. But what HH has been saying, what we have been telling them, when they could not control their appetite for borrowing, is now becoming true. We want to hear the PF speak up now and say that what is happening at UNZA and CBU is because HH is bitter.”
He urged Zambians to reflect on the mandate they gave the PF.
“As UPND, we want to call on the citizens of this country to reflect…this is the time to reflect on the mandate we give to politicians, that it is not just about handing out power anyhow, it is about giving power knowing that it is that power through the ballot you are giving out that you now have to rely on for your salary increment; you now have to rely on for your terminal benefits; you now have to rely on in order to get a job once you leave college or university. It is that power in the ballot that you are going to rely on whether to remain on the street as a street vendor or not, it is the power in the ballot that has created the situation we are in today. When we as citizens decide that it is this power we only use it and it is this voice in the ballot that we only speak once in five years. We must be very careful not to trade that voice with Chitenge or T-shirt or little money here and there or even with beer. We should know that that voice is very crucial. If you misplace it to the wrong authority, you are in for it for the next five years before you are given another opportunity to speak again,” said Mweetwa.
“It doesn’t make sense that the PF is busy chasing its members of parliament to create unnecessary by-elections, yet when it comes to these political events, there is no day when we have been told that ‘this by-election will not take place because government has failed to raise the necessary money for it. Does it make sense? It doesn’t. Look at the money that is going into Roan. It will be more money that the money which the workers at UNZA are demanding, it could be more money than what workers at ZAMPOST are demanding. So it’s like politics in Zambia is the most important thing at the expense of development, at the expense of the people who voted for us. This is where we are getting to now. People who have to suffer are the people who voted for us while those who are in those comfortable positions continue to live in luxury.”