Copperbelt University Academic Union (CBUAU) president Dr Derrick Ntalasha says keeping the university closed is very expensive because it disturbs the academic calendar.
And Dr Ntalasha says government and CBU management should ensure that workers’ salary payment schedule is normalized before the institution is reopened to avoid further disruptions.
In an interview, Dr Ntalasha said students were getting frustrated because despite making calls to Minister of Higher Education Prof Nkandu Luo and President Edgar Lungu to reopen CBU, they had decided to keep quiet.
“As Copperbelt University Academic Union and all workers at CBU, we would want the University to be opened as soon as possible because our students are getting frustrated. They have made calls to the minister, to the President but they have decided to keep quiet, which is not right. As a university, we have a calender and when the calender is disturbed, it is very expensive. You know when the university is closed, its an expensive venture so we would want the university to remain open. We appeal to the miniser to quickly open the university because she is the one that closed it, its not the university senate,” Dr Ntalasha said.
“They (government) are quiet because they don’t want to reveal the truth. Let government tell the truth that ‘this is the reason why we closed the institution’. They have no money to pay the students and workers. So if they have the money, let them open the university today and tomorrow will go back to normal…The salaries for workers are due on May 28, we expect the payments to be done on the 28. If they want the operations of the university to normalise, let them also normalise the payment of the salaries on May 28. This is the call to management of CBU, the Minister of Finance and Higher Education to ensure that we are funded on time so that when the students come, there are no disturbances”
He said before re-opening the institution, government and the university management should ensure that the student allowances and employees’ salaries are in place.
“We want the University to open as soon as yesterday. But at the same time, the university management, government, must put its house in order by making sure that the students allowances are ready, the employees salaries are in place so that when they open, everything is ready and no one should be blamed. Because they like to blame people when they are the same ones that have created that problem,” Dr Ntalasha said.
Dr Ntalasha observed that government was not being truthful about why CBU was closed.
“When the students in a university make noise, it’s important to understand why have they made the noise. The calls that the students made were genuine. The University authorities did not provide all the prerequisites that the students need to go through for them to be able to attain that 50 per cent that is required (in the continuous assessment). So the minister and the Vice Chancellor at CBU need to tell the people the truth why the University was closed,” he said.
“The problem is that they didn’t address the issues of continuous assessment [and] fees that the students requested. So if they want to bring in security measures of entry, that’s not solving the problem. They are running away from the actual problem. So if they want to solve the problem, let them first accept that they were wrong and then solve the problem according to which issues were raised.”
Meanwhile, Dr Ntalasha said University Councils should be appointed immediately so that they could supervise the running of the institutions.
“The universities are being micromanaged by the Minister of Higher Education Prof Luo. To make it even worse, the universities are being mismanaged by these managers that have been given to look after the institution. The minister is not anywhere close to the running of an institution but she has been seen like she is the chancellor or vice chancellor, to make decisions. There is a body that is provided for by the Higher Education Act of 2013 that says ‘there shall be a Council of the university’. That Council is the board that manages the operations of the university. Let the University Councils be appointed immediately so that they can supervise the running of these institutions,” said Dr Ntalasha.