UPND deputy spokesperson Patricia Mashingwele says President Edgar Lungu should have been man enough and gone to confront the problem at the Copperbelt University (CBU) when he was in the province, other than running away and shutting down the institution from a distance.
And Mashingwele says true leadership is tested during a crisis, and so far the Head of State has failed to manage a national crisis situation.
Meanwhile former Zambia National Students Union (ZANASU) vice president Prince Ndoyi says CBU students are being sacrificed a much higher and complex power struggle between Lecturers and government.
In an interview, in reaction to the closure of the institution of higher leaning, Mwashingwele said President Lungu’s leadership had been challenged by a crisis.
“His leadership is now coming into question. Good leadership is tested in a crisis. Even if the Copperbelt University was not on his schedule, just because there was a problem in Kitwe, he should have been man enough to go and confront the problem and not pretend like there is no problem and just pass comments on the backline and say ‘if things don’t change at CBU, then they will be closed.’ Who is going to change the situation so that they must not close? He must have gone to face them [and] if they were going to stone him, they should have done that because he is the man in charge. But then why is he using Professor Luo? because now the problem is beyond the minister of general education. It’s at the point where the president of the Republic of Zambia must take charge because education has really gone to the worst point,” Mwashingwele said.
Mwashingwele said the closure of CBU would have been avoided if President Lungu had taken time during the Copperbelt tour to visit the institution and hear the problem.
“I don’t think Hakainde would have done that. True leaders are tested when there is a crisis. He should have had the courage to go and step at CBU and listen to the people themselves. Look at it, they were smoking the students with teargas out of their rooms, are they not learning from the UNZA experience that smoking the students out of their rooms is not the best? So where do they want the students to go? Some students have no accommodation, have no relatives in Kitwe. The rule of students management is when they are in their hostels then it means they have retreated,” she said.
“And this is where we are saying Honourable Professor Nkandu Luo is missing the point. You can’t fight fire with fire. You know when the students are angry and she also sends in her police officers to go and smoke them out of their rooms. Do they want death to happen at CBU for Edgar Lungu and his minister to understand the gravity of the problem at CBU. Now the institution has closed when if Edgar Lungu had stepped into CBU when he was on the Copperbelt, they would have avoided the closure.”
She observed that government was running away from its responsibility by closing the institution.
“So now when they close it, what is the benefit to the government, to the students, to the lecturers? They are running away from the responsibility. PF is running away from responsibility. They have students issues to handle, they have lecturers salaries to pay [and so] the quickest method they could use was just to close. The president must take responsibility. He was too close to the CBU to have left without going there and that is the point where I think I am holding him responsible on behalf of our children. And I am even comparing him with our president, I don’t think HH would have behaved like that if he was on the Copperbelt. Men worth their sort don’t behave like that,” said Mwashingwele.
Meanwhile Ndoyi in a statement said Professor Luo was lost and far from reality adding that her style of leadership had failed to prevail on the challenges facing high learning institutions.
“The students are being played victim of a much higher and complex power struggle between Lecturers and government through its unpopular management. This will definitely affect students because as we speak CBU is still a year behind on its calendar, the academic year we are talking about is 2018. So they will further be delayed and exams they have studied for are now water down the drain. Which is unfair. My appeal to all of them government, management and lecturers to be for once considerate. Students are not considered as a stakeholder, their plight is relegated to be the last priority. And this closure is one among the many unfortunate circumstances of a lack of conscious on the part of those fighting for space,” Ndoyi stated.
He appealed to government to give the students another chance to improve.
“So under normal circumstances, when these forces are embroiled in a bitter fierce fight to secure their self interest, government should have been a parent in this situation. But that hasn’t been the case for Honourable Nkandu Luo. She is totally lost and far from reality, her style of leadership has failed to prevail on the challenges facing high learning institutions and President Lungu ought to find a solution soon enough before it’s too late. These emotional decisions are not helping at all. These closures are uncalled for, students must equally exercise restraint and not take to the streets. There is no place for that among intellectuals. The students deserve another chance,” stated Ndoyi.