UNZALARU secretary general Dr Kennedy Mambwe says Higher Education Minister Professor Nkandu Luo’s outrageous and appalling remarks against UNZA and CBU lecturers represent her chosen way of celebrating April Fools’ Day.

Prof Luo told Hot FM news, Monday, that lecturers at the University of Zambia and Copperbelt University who felt neglected by government’s delay to pay them salaries must resign and find better jobs if they wanted.

“I think some time yesterday I was talking about that in parliament. You see everybody has become an authority to talk about everything and the unfortunate things about some of the people that comment unfortunately they just comment without even engaging the ministry to understand even the dynamics of particular institutions. I mean people can continue protesting and they can protest but the question is what are they protesting about? For example ZCTU to incite the University of Zambia lecturers to protest, what are they protesting about? The first thing they should ask them is ‘how much do you as a lecturer wreck into the university? Because the term academician is for a person who teaches, who researches, who innovates. And through research and innovation, you are supposed to bring in money as a person,” Prof Luo told Hot FM news.

“And the reason why for me I speak with authority is because I myself taught in the university and I can showcase how much money as an individual I was bringing in. My budget could actually pay the salaries that I used to bring in a department, not even in a school or the university, but a department of a major university like the University of Zambia. My budget was about US $4 million and that was enough to pay salaries. So this thing of people just wanting to protest because they want to make government look bad is neither here nor there. So for me my focus is to make education in Zambia function and quality. Those who want to protest they can continue protesting.”

She told lecturers who did not agree with her to resign and find better jobs.

“That is why I don’t like commenting about them because it’s not worthy my comment. My role is to make sure that the training of our children is quality, is robust and is going on. And how does anybody in their right sense start asking the university lecturers who are shaping the future of this country [to protest]? So this thing of politicizing education and you the press also following all these things to make us look bad will not help you. That is why when you call me I don’t even want to give you an interview because I have no time for negatives. So ZCTU can incite whoever they want and they can do what they like [but] I am not available. And those of the lecturers who believe in my passion can come on board, those who don’t believe, they can also resign and leave the university because if they say the university is not paying them, they should just resign and go and find jobs elsewhere and we will find other people to come and teach,” said Prof Luo.

But in a statement, Dr Mambwe urged Prof Luo to exercise judgement in the choice of the pranks she decided to pull.

“UNZALARU would like to believe that the outrageous and appalling remarks by the Minister represent her chosen way of celebrating April Fools’ Day. It is not our intention to prescribe to her what pranks she can unleash on our members and the public on this day, dedicated globally to playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes. However, we urge the Minister to exercise judgement even in the choice of the pranks she pulls. This is because jokes of disturbingly poor quality, like the one broadcast on Hot FM this morning, have the potential to provide inglorious inspiration to one or more of her colleagues in Cabinet who, in a needless race to the pettiest and most despicable joke for April Fools’ Day, may appear on another platform to proclaim that ‘President Edgar Lungu and we in the PF government have no plans to sustain public universities, especially the University of Zambia (UNZA) and Copperbelt University (CBU), because we do not value higher education and the need for it in the country’,” Dr Mambwe stated.

He stated that lecturers were waiting to Prof Luo to get back to her senses after April Fools Day.

“We would like to believe that the Minister of Higher Education is yet to take leave of her senses and retains the mind to think of more harmless and funny April Fools’ jokes to dish out for media and public consumption. On behalf of our members, we wish the Minister all the best for the remainder of this day, 1st April 2019. We trust that tomorrow (today), 2nd April, she would revert to being serious and immediately act to avert a looming work stoppage at both UNZA and CBU owing to the delayed payment of salaries for workers for the month of March. Otherwise we may be persuaded to believe that Luo is not only consciously digging the grave for UNZA and CBU; she is also frighteningly arrogant, impervious to advice, incapable of humility, un-accepting of criticism, and enthralled by vanity,” stated Dr Mambwe.