THE CURRENT University of Zambia management team is incompetent, wasteful, extravagant and lacking in vision, says UNZALARU.
And UNZALARU says it is disheartening that the university management’s statement which dismissed a Diggers story as being false and malicious did not provide any responses to critical issues raised in the audit which was carried out.
Recently, Diggers! reported that an audit report for the financial year ended 2018 has revealed that UNZA owed ZRA, NAPSA and Workers Compensation over K2.8 billion in statutory obligations.
And the report also revealed that there were 30,657 favourable changes to student results without supporting documentation in 2018, among other irregularities which were highlighted in an audit undertaken by Grant Thornton on behalf of the Auditor General.
But the UNZA management, in a statement, UNZA acting head of communications and marketing Brenda Bukowa, charged that allegations published against them were a deliberate ploy to incite members of the general public to garner an uproar against them.
Bukowa stated that the audit was still ongoing and not concluded in line with standard lawful procedure.
UNZALARU, however, in a statement signed by union president Dr Evans Lampi and his secretary general Dr Kelvin Mambwe, which was shared with News Diggers, Tuesday, observed that management’s statement on the matter was insufficient.
“In the first place, we ought to mention that we would have loved not to issue this statement because, being part of the University, we realise that we ought to deal with our issues internally instead of washing dirty linen in public. Unfortunately, our attempts to have a meeting with Management of the University proved futile as they insisted that anything relating to the Audit Report had been addressed in their Press Release of 9 April 2020. Due to their refusal to meet us and clarify anything that we felt needed clarification, Management has left us with no option but to address this matter through the media by focusing on the report shared through the media and their press release that responded to the media reports. This, to us, is comprehensive since as far as Management is concerned, their response has sufficiently dealt with the matter,” UNZALARU stated.
“The media report under discussion is the story that appeared in the News Diggers newspaper of 7 April 2020 headed: ‘UNZA owes ZRA, others K2.8bn, as audit reveals mismanagement of funds’ written by Mukosha Funga. The story raises fundamental issues in relation to the Audit ending December 31, 2018. We have noted that Management has not refuted the authenticity of the report that has been referred to in the story above but have merely suggested that the “media publications are based on false and malicious allegations aimed at discrediting and damaging the reputation of the institution.” We would have been happy if the Public Relations Office of the University had gone further to show which particular aspects of the report were untrue and give the true picture of the same. In the response, Management has shown a total lack of academic excellence, which allows for debate, self-introspection and entertaining of contrary views. The spirit of academia is that one should be able to give their views backed with evidence and also show the weakness of the other view without rubbishing it. However, Management has failed to fulfil any of these tasks in their response.”
UNZALARU challenged management to respond to specific irregularities cited in the report.
“Management’s refusal to meet UNZALARU over the matter but merely refer us to an empty and unintelligent report shows that there is a lot of truth in the media report and they would be unable to refute any of that if we had a face-to-face encounter. This is really sad because as a University, we have stood for the truth and being exemplary in all our actions. We are the topmost academic institution in the country and our actions must indicate so. For this reason, we would like Management to answer the following questions: 1. Is it true that as at 31 December 2018, the University owed ZRA, NAPSA and Workers Compensation Authority over K2.8 billion in statutory obligations? If that is not true, in the spirit of transparency, kindly furnish us and the general public the true picture of what was owed by the said date. 2. Is it true that as at 31 December 2018, UNZA accumulatively owed ZRA K1, 607,660,000, NAPSA K1, 201,980,000 and Workers Compensation K9, 800,000 from the period 2013 to 2018? Is it true that amounts totalling K2, 819,440,000 were deducted from the employees’ emoluments as Pay As You Earn, NAPSA and Workers Compensation during the period under review but amounts had not been remitted to ZRA, NAPSA and Workers Compensation as of 31st December 2018? If that is not true, in the spirit of transparency, kindly furnish us and the general public the true picture of what transpired during the said period,” UNZALARU stated.
“3. Is it true that as at 31 December 2018, there were 30,657 favourable changes to students results without supporting documentation? If that is not true, in the spirit of transparency, kindly furnish us and the general public the true picture of what transpired in relation to student grade changes as at the said date. 4. Is it true that as at 31 December 2018, the Vice Chancellor had received up to K111,832.00 since September 2016 which was not in line with his terms of service? If that is not true, in the spirit of transparency, kindly furnish us and the general public what exactly is contained in the contract with the Vice Chancellor and explain how the said amount was paid. Kindly avail us what the rationale behind the said payment was and the minutes that led to the decision on the said payment. 5. Is it true that the University engaged the Vice Chancellor on 1st July 2016 at a salary of K68,390, the salary that was adjusted to K75,229 without proper documentation to support the salary increment of 10 per cent of the initial contract? If that is not true, in the spirit of transparency, kindly explain to us and the general public on how the said salary was increased and kindly avail us the rationale behind the said increment and the minutes that led to the decision on the said adjustment.”
The union also asked management to explain some irregular salary increments.
“6. Is it true that the University engaged the Deputy Vice Chancellor on 28th January 2016 at a salary of K61,219, the salary that was adjusted mid-year in July 2016 to K62,645 before being further increased in December 2016 to K68,909.50 without proper documentation to support the adjustment by 12.5 per cent of the initial contract? If that is not true, in the spirit of transparency, kindly explain to us and the general public how the said salary was increased and kindly avail us what the rationale behind the said increment and the minutes that led to the decision on the said adjustment. 7. Is it true that the University engaged the Bursar effective 1st November 2016 at a salary of K42,365, the salary that was, one month later, adjusted to K46,601.50 with arrears amounting to K6,353-30 (salary arrears of K4,236.50, Fuel K1,270 and housing K847.30) paid without proper documentation to support the said salary increment and payment of arrears for the salary. If that is not true, in the spirit of transparency, kindly explain to us and the general public on how the said salary was increased and kindly avail us the rationale behind the said increment and the minutes that led to the decision on the said adjustment,” UNZALARU stated.
“8. Is it true that the University employed the Dean of Students on 1st March 2016 at a salary of K38,024, the salary that was adjusted in December 2016 to K41,826.40 without proper documentation to support the salary increment of 10 per cent of the initial contract? If that is not true, in the spirit of transparency, kindly explain to us and the general public on how the said salary was increased and kindly avail us the rationale behind the said increment and the minutes that led to the decision on the said adjustment. Being an academic institution, UNZA would have done better to clarify these issues instead of avoiding all manner of discussion pertaining to the same. It is quite disheartening for the highest learning institution to show signs of inability to follow procedure and do things correctly. How difficult was it for the institution to avail auditors with documents that they claim are available when such documents are availed during the auditing process, long before the preliminary report? The inability to produce the documents at the time when the documents are needed shows not only a lack of proper record keeping but also a possibility of attempting to prepare fake documents to regularise wrongs committed in the past. The University has demonstrated its poor internal auditing processes that have been revealed by external auditors. This audit process, which is still ongoing, we fear, will show more glaring irregularities in the management of this institution.”
And UNZALARU argued that the problems facing UNZA would not end until the current management was changed.
“Who would understand how an institution that is choking with such huge debts can be awarding such huge salary increments to already huge salaries, above all, without following procedure? This therefore suggests incompetence of the highest kind on the part of the University Management. We have said time and again that UNZA has a Management crisis. Government should have paid particular attention to how the University has been (mis)managed for it to get to this all-time low level performance, a situation that the University may never get out of if it continues running under this leadership and its failed, personally-satisfying systems. It is not long ago when we wrote to Management inquiring on why they have lately been creating jobs that are not only unnecessary but also improperly executed in terms of recruitment. Management has failed to follow their own procedures and has been seriously unable to safeguard resources of the University. As far as they are concerned, the University is their personal moneymaking cow and they will milk it until it collapses. What measures have they put in place to prevent wastage of resources that are daily being gobbled by themselves while they continuously blame Government for underfunding the institution? They should be aware that they are the major culprits in the University’s failure to be resuscitated as it lies on the deathbed. The University of Zambia shall remain a shadow of its former self if the Management continues to be unrealistic in the way they run the institution. Have they responded to the letter we wrote to them when we expressed concern with the way they are irregularly creating new offices and filing them without adherence to procedures? Just as they rubbished the report by the News Diggers, they ignored our letter and even rejected to meet us to discuss this issue. However, we are at the centre of the University and will therefore not tire at commenting on issues that affect the University the most,” stated UNZALARU.
“We will do everything we can to contribute in our own small way to address challenges affecting our institution until someone realises that we should learn to do the right thing as a people for the sake of both current and future generations. For the sake of the health of the University of Zambia, we ask the Minister of Higher Education to demand Management to account for the mismanagement of the institution. Should they fail to do so, we implore the Minister to consider getting rid of the current members of UNZA Management and ask investigative wings to investigate them for possible prosecution. We insist that the problem of UNZA is not simply lack of adequate funds; it is primarily the lack of leadership at Management level. Even if the Minister appointed a new University Council today, or if the Government liquidated UNZA’s total debt, the university’s problems won’t go away if the current Management team is maintained in office because it is incompetent, wasteful, extravagant and lacking in vision for the institution. Vice-Chancellor Evuta and his team are running UNZA into the ground and reducing the University to the level of an upgraded secondary school. We call on the Minister to rescue the University by getting rid of the current Management and hiring a competent team of professionals to provide effective leadership to the University.”