Ministry of Higher Education Permanent Secretary Kayula Siame says government regrets the delay in the processing of funding to public universities, but has urged the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) to exercise patience whenever there is a delay in the processing of grants.

Monday, UNZA lecturers staged a protest against their delayed salaries and denounced President Edgar Lungu, saying if an election was called, only those eating with the people in government and “idiots” would vote for the Patriotic Front.

The lecturers who used strong language against the university management further vowed to stop work on the 6th of every month if salaries for the previous month are not settled.

Reacting to the development, Siame explained that there was a delay by the Ministry of Finance to release funds, a situation which affected the scheduled remittance of grants to public universities by the line ministry.

“The delay as you know was caused by the funding, there was a delay in the funding but that has been solved and they have been funded, so they will be paid soon. It was sorted out today (yesterday). I don’t know if they have been paid our role is not to pay them, our role is to give them the money so when Ministry of Finance releases, then we release. So we are releasing the money to UNZA, I am sure they will do the processing. As you know there is paperwork to be done, it is not like when the money comes you pay them. So I am sure within today (Tuesday) or tomorrow (Wednesday) I am sure they should be able to process. I think our role is to ensure that we try to get funding to universities on time. I think that is what we are going to aim for,” Siame said.

She however urged UNZALARU to exercise patience when dealing with government funding.

“I think they just needed to be a bit patient and understand the situation, the situation is not that the money would not come it was just that it was delayed. So there was a delay from the Ministry of Finance. Ministry of Finance has funded us and we are also now funding the universities; that is all I can say. We don’t pay the salaries, I can’t say I am paying the university the salaries. We fund according to the grants. I think you should get to understand the way it works then you will get to understand better because otherwise you will just say ‘money has been held somewhere’ while it is not, it is being transmitted maybe from one bank account to another,” she said.

Siame pointed out that UNZA was not the only institution that received the funding late.

“When the bank releases the money to Ministry of Higher Education we then release to all the universities, it is not just UNZA by the way all the seven public universities. Government has funded all the seven public universities. So they are seven in total. All the seven universities have been funded and the delay was regrettable, that is all I can say. It is regrettable that there was a delay but now that the funds have been released by Finance I am sure that University of Zambia will also go ahead and implement accordingly,” said Siame.