If an election was to be called today, either those that are enjoying with government or idiots would vote for the PF, says University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) general secretary Dr Kelvin Mambwe.
And UNZALARU president Dr Evans Lampi has reiterated that every 6th day of every month, lecturers will be halting all operations if they are not paid by then.
Meanwhile, UNZALARU trustee Chabala Musonda says they will pinch UNZA management where it hurts the most, even if it means “breaking their b*lls”.
The trio said this in Lusaka, Monday, at the UNZA Great East Road main campus where unions had a protest meeting against their delayed December salaries.
“As long as the University of Zambia is not properly funded, this institution will be ungovernable. And it will be a bad reflection on the government of these guys calling themselves leaders when they can’t lead at all. And if an election was to be called today, there are two categories of people that would vote for them; either those that are enjoying with them or idiots,” Dr Mambwe said.
“It’s as simple as that. No normal person would support this nonsense. It’s not only UNZA which is struggling today [but] we have council workers, there is ZNBC, there are National Museum workers who have not been paid for eight months and they want us to be the next category of people who are not being paid. We are not going to allow that. And we have told them.”
Dr Mambwe wondered why President Edgar Lungu’s salary cut had not resolved the problem of payment delays at UNZA.
“Government is a culprit. We have a government of the Patriotic Front (PF) which is not doing its role. We thought by cutting his salary, we were going to get our salaries early because, in an ideal situation, the reasons why the President decided to cut his salary and that of his colleagues was to ensure that there are sufficient funds. So we should be able to see those funds come to the University of Zambia on time,” he said.
He said government had shifted its attention to Bill 10, “a self-preservation document and a scam to many Zambians”.
“They are focusing on Bill 10 because the interest is themselves. It’s about self-preservation. They are not concerned with your welfare. And that is the reason why they come up with some salary increment and behind the back, they get one per cent through the so-called National Insurance [Bill]. It’s a useless and actually a scam. And it’s unfortunate that you employees are not actually rising up to this nonsense. Come together so that we rise against this incompetent national leadership, incompetence of leadership at different levels of the nation,” Dr Mambwe said.
“My appeal to the membership is that this solidarity that we are showing should continue. We are calling upon our members to be united so that we get what is owed to us. It’s not just about the salaries, it is about gratuities, pensions. We are eight years behind. And the guys (you know the guys that I am talking about) will soon be getting their mid-term gratuities in full without any problems on top of those Surfs which they are driving. Right now a bag of mealie-meal is costing [about] K200 and our members cannot afford to buy one especially that they have not been paid. And your fuel is costing close to US $2 [per liter], increased electricity tariffs, we are in trouble,” said Dr Mambwe.
And Dr Lampi said the unions would be having protest meetings on the 6th of every month.
“When the meeting was called today [so that we could] make our feelings felt about the displeasure that we have on the non-payment of salaries, the management in a scramble called the leadership of the three unions to meet us. From the vice chancellor’s briefing, there was not much. It was just an appeal [to say] ‘please do not disrupt the calendar. If the students don’t come, we will not have money to pay your salaries and it will not augur well because we have been promised by the government.’ The bursar tried to tell us the timeline of where the money is and in short, basically said he was told at the Ministry of Finance that the money was released on Friday but it has to go through the Ministry of Higher Education and then there is inner processing of the banks and that ‘please can you give us maybe during this week’,” Dr Lampi said.
He warned management not to bring any students in school if it couldn’t pay them as doing so would cause chaos.
“We want to warn management that do not bring students here if you don’t have the money to pay us because you will just bring chaos. Bring them if you want [and] you will see. There was no resolution of any type. They want us to appeal and we are saying that we are not appealing because we are also not paid. The only way is for the leadership of this university to show up here and not start hiding in their offices here. They need to come here and explain the things they were explaining to the [union] leadership on why their salaries have not been paid. We can disrupt operations,” said Dr Lampi.
“We have always said in the past that there are issues of priority here. There seems to be money for everything except for the University of Zambia lecturers. And we have said that higher education is the pinnacle of any development agenda and this does not preclude that management is acting on behalf of government. Their incompetence is part of the reasons why government is relaxed. They must push government and make it clear to them that the institution is relevant. So, we are not letting them off the hook this time. Let them feel the wrath of the membership and their employees. How can you refuse to meet your own employees a few meters from your office?”
During the protest, UNZALARU trustee Chabala Musonda threw herself onto the stage and said members would “pinch management’s b*lls” where it hurts the most until they get their pay.
“I ask you to hold the bull by its b*lls. I got an eviction notice and yet I come here to teach every day. If it means pinching where it hurts the most, let the b*lls break. UNZA will not re-open. And I am not going to listen to any intimidation. The president and the GS put the behavior of the vice-chancellor mildly. He blatantly refused to see each and every one of us saying ‘are we the ones that are paying you? I don’t pay anyone’s salary here’. So the person that pays and I have done my job should have been here. They told us it was short notice, but we called them thinking that its a management that would have repented in 2020. What I saw colleagues does not inspire confidence in me especially in Evuta (vice chancellor). The sooner we start thinking of how to remove the problem, ativuta (he has troubled us),” said Musonda.
“I did not spend the houses I spent on the books just to come and start pleading for pay. And here is the employer who trots around the globe. Yes, he needs to be seen somewhere but he needs to clean his house first. I am not afraid of anything that is going to befall me. Enough of this nonsense! I cannot be begging for pay that I have already worked for. He even had the audacity to say to me that ‘appeal to your members.’ A cadre has the audacity to go and see the President and they will dine and sing but an intellectual like you and me we can’t even have an audience even just for five minutes of the President’s time.”
Meanwhile, UNZA spokesperson Brenda Bukowa, in a statement, assured all staff members that frantic efforts were being made to ensure that December salaries were paid as soon as possible.