President Edgar Lungu has vowed to deal with University of Zambia and Copperbelt University students and lecturers who are protesting against their unpaid salaries, saying government will have no option but to shut down the two institutions of higher learning if protests continue

And the President has urged Minister of Higher Education Professor Nkandu not to be a useless minister who just issues empty threats but failing to discipline unruly lecturers and students at UNZA and CBU.

Meanwhile, Professor Luo says she cannot be affected by the criticism from UNZA and CBU lecturers and students because she is bulletproof.

After inspecting rehabilitation works at the Zambia Institute of Business Studies and Industrial Practice (ZIBSIP) college hostels in Kitwe, Wednesday, President Lungu told journalists that government would not spare students engaging in riotous behaviour both at CBU and UNZA, much to the delight of Prof Luo who flanked the Head of State, nodding to the decree.

“We will deal with them, don’t worry! If it means closing, we will close, right?” President Lungu said to Prof Luo who responded in the affirmative with delight.

“Seriously speaking, why is this happening at CBU only and University of Zambia? Only those two institutions, why? When I was at home yesterday, I had a chat with union leaders for the students and I was about to say ‘no, umwana kasembe (a child is like an axe). But when I saw the extent of the damage, I was really sad! We have to refrain. They say: ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’…I know human rights (activists) will come into play, but the truth is this kind of attitude… how do you account and explain and justify damaging an institution like this one and going to the road to maim an old man who is driving his only car? How do you explain that? [So] if it means closure, we will close!” President Lungu warned.

And speaking when he commissioned phase one of the newly-expanded campus at Mukuba University in Kitwe’s Itipi area, President Lungu, who teased Prof Luo’s confidence in instilling discipline in scholars at all Universities, said he would not tolerate selective delivery of development.

“The Honourable Minister of Higher Education…Madam iron lady. From her speech, you can tell that she’s madam iron lady! I hope your words will live up to what you have promised because I have heard most people say ‘I give you 10 days to do this,’ but then 10 days passes and nothing happens! So, if you are using words to scare people and you don’t do what you have promised, ninshi mwalabafye aba chabe chabe! (then you will just become useless!),” said President Lungu.

“PF government is committed to improving the lives of our people. Therefore, there is no better way to do that than bringing a University closer to the people. Education opens opportunities in life and it is a key ingredient to national development, prosperity and the wellbeing of any nation. Therefore, if we have to achieve national development and sustain our economic growth, it is imperative for us to have appropriate skills and educated people. It is for this reason that your government has continued to implement plans aimed at ensuring quality and relevant education, which responds to the issues affecting Zambia today. The PF remains committed and impartial to deliver quality services to all parts of the country. Therefore, I will not condone discrimination of project implementation against certain regions. Regardless of where people are, they have the right social services, such as education and health. The child in Shang’ombo, the child in Lunga District and the child in Lusaka should all have equal opportunities. I, therefore, wish to sound a clarion call to all those responsible for the implementation distribution of projects to avoid the temptation of discriminating against certain regions.”

And speaking earlier, Prof Luo boasted that she would not be shaken by those talking ill about her because she was a bulletproof woman.

“Your Excellency, let me take this opportunity to say how disappointed I am as your Minister about the behaviour of our students. And because this University is presided over by the Copperbelt University, where our students have misbehaved to the yield, I hope the Union from this University will not interface with the unions form the Copperbelt University as I would like discipline here. When you have two kids, your expenditure patterns are different because you have only got two kids. This is why your Excellency, for many years, Copperbelt University and University of Zambia became so comfortable and started having a sense of entitlement. They would go to the street, wreck people’s cars and they have the audacity to say: ‘it’s okay, we can go and repair!’ This will not be condoned in our institutions of higher learning, at least for the period I am your Minister,” Prof Luo said.

“University is a place where you find the intellectuals of a country. Even the lecturers are supposed to be our advisors, not our critics! Therefore, please allow me to instil discipline in our institutions of higher learning. Even if they complain about me on all the radio stations, I have a bullet proof. When they speak against me, then I know I am working, your Excellency. I will crack the whip at every moment when people misbehave!”

She explained that students from rural areas and differently-abled students would be given priority when giving student loans and scholarships.

“I want to assure the students of Mukuba that starting from 2019, the new intakes will be beneficiaries of loans and scholarships. And your Excellency, if you allow me, I have decided that, as a Ministry, as we look at distributing the loans and scholarships across this country, all the loans and scholarships at the tune of 30 per cent will go to rural areas because we want to ensure that even people in the rural areas access support by your government. Your Excellency, another 30 per cent of all our scholarships and loans will be given to girls. This is to ensure that the girls are not left behind. Ten per cent of the loans and scholarships will be given to people living with disabilities and the other 30 per cent will be competed for. Out of all these, 60 per cent will be given to Science and Mathematics. Therefore, this institution will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the loans and scholarships because of their focus on Science,” said Prof Luo.