People’s Alliance for Change (PAC) president Andyford Banda has demanded for the re-opening of Copperbelt University (CBU) saying it is the only way to safeguard the integrity of Zambia’s higher education sector.

In an interview, Banda urged government to re-open CBU immediately to prevent a skills shortage in the country.

He said the PF government should tell the public that it had no money to fund CBU rather than using emotions to shut down the institution.

“It’s very unfortunate that we have not shown concern over this matter. It is a very dangerous trend, which seems to be taking place in the higher education sector, because it seems like the higher education sector is going down ever since Professor Nkandu Luo or the PF government came into power. If we do not put funds together and ensure that people get educated in the future, we will end up importing skills from outside the country! There are countries that import engineers, nurses, and doctors, they import teachers. So, at the rate that we are moving, in the future, we may not have home-grown engineers or professional teachers. And we will have a lot of young people not employed because they won’t have skills,” Banda said.

“So, as a party, we would like to demand that the government stops being emotional with universities because the closure of CBU is just an emotional decision. It has nothing to do with a lot of what the government claims. And if the government has got no money to fund the university, they should come out in the open. This issue is not between the students and the President (Edgar Lungu), or the students and the Ministry of Higher Education, but it is about this country, it is about the future of our skills. The problem with the PF government is that they don’t want to understand that investing in skills is investing in our country. We are investing in the future. We don’t want to be importing labour. So, if they don’t have money, they need to understand that they have to prioritize the education sector and we demand that they open the institution with immediate effect.”

Meanwhile, Banda also joined calls for Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja to resign, saying that he had failed the service.

“I think the Inspector General of Police has failed the Zambian people. The fact that he could not protect the Sesheke police officers, which his spokesperson madam Esther Katongo clearly stated that the police were not happy with the firing of those people. It’s like there were just instructions from above. The job of the Inspector General is to ensure that they apply the law above partisan politics. They need to apply the law equally. While Mr Amos Chanda wonders why the law leaves cadres not arrested when they trespass against media houses, we should remind them that when the government or when the police acted impartially in Sesheke, they ended up being fired! So, what is the guarantee that when they deal with cadres, they will not face issues like being fired or being transferred to villages?” asked Banda.

“So, the government has created this structure themselves and they should not give us this rhetoric. And if, really, PF cadres are not above the law, I have seen a lot of PF branded cars without registration, so they need to arrest them because right now, it is an offense to drive a non-registered vehicle.”