Copperbelt University Academic Union (CBUAU) Secretary General Willy Ngosa has described the reasons being given by Minister of Higher Education Professor Nkandu Luo for the continued closure of CBU as nonsense.
And Ngosa says Prof Luo has failed and doesn’t deserve to be called minister.
Reacting to Prof Luo’s ministerial statement that CBU would only be opened if CCTV cameras were installed, Ngosa said putting up CCTV cameras wouldn’t address the problem because students would still find a way to protest.
“For us as a union basically we will just describe that as nonsense, I think that is the fairest term you can use. For a minister to come and say that they are not going to open the institution because they are going to put CCTV cameras, for us we feel that is nonsensical because the plight of the students must be addressed. The students are demanding for something, they had certain concerns so putting CCTV on campus will not address the problem. I will give you an example with the coming up of these fraudsters and all that, the banks are putting in strict measures but what you will discover is that the more the banks put those measures, the fraudsters also are doing much research to crack the codes so that they can still be able to defraud those banks. Now why am I saying so? I am saying so because as long as the student grievances are not attended to and you try to suppress them, even if you put those cameras the students will find a way of protesting,” Ngosa said.
“So what we are appealing to the Minister is that can she open the University. I think it’s now going out of hand because you cannot hold the institution at ransom at the expense of putting a camera. If they are interested with addressing the security situation, they can still open the institution, address the students’ grievances and put up what ever security measures they want to put.”
Ngosa said it was rubbish to spend about K11 million on CCTV.
“But again, look at the cost, how much is it costing? They are thinking of spending about K11 million on that rubbish. We call it rubbish because the institutions has critical needs which need to be addressed. Some students stand in class, we have lectures where students literally stand in class. There is no furniture, so for someone to go and put CCTVs at the expense of the plight of the students for us we think that is uncalled for,” he said.
Ngosa explained some of the reasons why students had protested, noting that security was not on the students’ list of concerns.
“(The students were saying) ‘you see the library was not working, some of the classes were closed, so for you to demand that the students should acquire the 20 per cent threshold, I think it will not be fair on our part. So what we asking for us as students is can we be allowed to write the exams so that the next academic year when all is well that can be implemented we have no problem’, but what happened is that there was no one to listen to those concerns and those students who were denied also got upset and in the process, there where those protests. It escalated to an extent the Vice Chancellor’s office was broken, the windows were broken and some of the classroom window were broken. When the institution was closed, those were the main causes of the closure, the demands of students were not heard because of that the students got upset and they did what they did. Of course we don’t support riotous behavior but we are of the view that when people’s concerns are raised, they must be listened to. The reason why I am going through this background is that I want you to have a clear picture because many people it’s like they don’t know. And from those the demands you can clearly see that security was not part of the demands of the students.”
Ngosa said Prof Luo did not listen to the plight of the students.
“Instead of addressing the concerns of the student management went on and suspended the union leadership in the midst of the confusion. In the process of conflict resolution the idea is to narrow the differences between the two parties but management is adamant and the students where also adamant so in the process there was no one willing to dialogue. The Vice Chancellor was unable to dialogue and the minister was given information by the vice chancellor and that is what she got as gospel truth so without listening to the plight of the students,” he said.
And Ngosa said Prof Luo and CBU vice-chancellor Professor Naison Ngoma had failed.
“She is not worthy to be called a Minister because she has basically failed the higher education sector to say the least. The problem that we have with our chancellor coming from a military background, no wonder from the word go we have said he doesn’t qualify to run the Copperbelt University because the way the University run they are totally different from the military setup. In a university setup, we run through the committee but for him, he wants to bring the military tendencies into the university which is uncalled for. Because you require dialogue to sit down with the students not what you say is what goes on,” said Ngosa.
“So the closure itself is punishment enough, what we need is people who will run these institutions, people who have a heart for the institution, not people who will come and destroy these institutions. Because what Professor Nkandu Luo is literally doing is destroying our higher education setup that is where for us, we get put off. If Prof Luo’s children were at CBU, would she have been doing what she is doing at the higher education sector? Probably they don’t care because their children are outside abroad studying using tax payers’ money and other people have invested in their education and have sent their children there. You destroying your very own higher education. I think it is a concern and we feel she is a failed project she should just resign because there is nothing she is bringing to the higher education sector apart from confusion.”