Minister of Information and Broadcasting Dora Siliya says public universities should start income-generating projects that will help them with their operations, adding that government has a lot of needs and cannot focus on universities alone.

And Siliya says the hosting of the Commonwealth Lawyers’ Conference in Livingstone was a sign of confidence that the international community had in Zambia’s stability.

Speaking at a press briefing in Lusaka, Wednesday, Siliya argued that government could not manage to pay for all students at public universities because it had a lot of needs that compete for limited resources.

“The idea is that the University of Zambia with over 30,000 students, the idea is that this institution should be managed because it’s offering a service and that this service is being paid for. But it is true that we are coming from a history where nobody was paying for that service, government was paying. There were three million people in Zambia in 1964 with only 100 people in university so government managed to pay. When we came to the 70s and 80s, it became clear that we had become many and government had to make decisions: ‘should we continue paying for all the students at the university?’ Now, if you only have one source of money, you have to make roads, you have to pay famers; should we be paying for free university education? I think universities have to try as much as possible to generate resources. Minister of Higher Education (Prof Nkandu Luo) always talks about alumni of the university to help the university,” Siliya said.

“Government is saying: ‘look universities, find a project that can help you to generate resources, especially now that they are not the only ones, there are private universities. I visited the University of Lusaka (UniLus) recently, there are so many students there; I am sure we will not be hearing of any closure of the University of Lusaka. So, why is this problem only to public universities? It is an issue that we need to investigate. What is clear is that government has a lot of needs and cannot only look at the need of 40,000 students! Government has to look at the people in Dundumwezi who want relief food; people of Sesheke who want relief food and even people of Kanyama here who want clean drinking water.”

And Siliya said the hosting of the Commonwealth Lawyers’ Conference in Livingstone was a sign of confidence that the international community had in the stability of the country.

“The hosting of the Commonwealth Lawyers’ meeting in Livingstone continues to be a sign of confidence in the country, especially in terms of our stability, in terms of promotion of tourism, and in particular, Livingstone, as a tourism destination. It should make us very proud as a country that people can trust us to host such a meeting, especially lawyers. The Secretary General of the Commonwealth herself (Patricia Scotland) came to attend the meeting and our President attending that meeting was a sign of the importance we attach to international matters and organizations such as the Commonwealth,” Siliya said.

Meanwhile, the minister said the country had failed to have a good Republican Constitution because some people had always been accusing successive governments of having hidden agendas.

“We have been talking about the Constitution since 1964 and government’s position is that we must put this matter to rest so that we focus on others matters of the country like delivering social services. We have had a number of constitutional review commissions and at every point, it has been that government has an ill-intended motive, it was the same with the MMD and now, PF. The President assented to the amended Constitution in 2016, why can’t we just look at the lacunas in this Constitution? Others decided to stay away from making submissions, while others have been making submissions quietly. There will always be those that are detractors that want to use the Constitution for political purposes. The Constitution is a symbol of our nationalism and patriotism and I believe it is time we addressed it. This is not a matter for President Lungu or the PF,” Siliya said.

And Siliya called on people in Roan and Bahati constituencies to avoid violence during today’s by-elections.
“As government, we call upon all the participants in the elections tomorrow (today) that those who are going to vote should vote freely and avoid violence. We have an opportunity as a country to desist from all manner of violence. President Lungu has repeated his call on the need to avoid violence during elections and we hope that those participating tomorrow (today) will heed the call of government that there is no place for violence in a democracy,” said Siliya.