THE University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) has demanded the abolishment of the University of Zambia’s Caretaker Committee which was constituted by Higher Education Minister Dr Brian Mushimba.

On October 1, UNZA acting registrar Dr Lubinda Haabazoka wrote to UNZALARU requesting the union to submit comments on the proposed revisions to the staff disciplinary and grievance procedure code as the Caretaker Committee was scheduled to consider the proposed code October 28, 2020.

But in response letter dated October 5, Dr Mambwe asked Dr Haabazoka if and when a Caretaker Committee was appointed by the Minister following dissolution of the previous one by the Minister, the details of the composition of the new Caretaker Committee and whether the academic staff was represented in the said committee.

In his response to this, Dr Haabozoka said the minister had powers to appoint a caretaker committee and that the act did not specify a criteria.

Dr Mambwe, however, told Dr Haabazoka that it would not support an illegality by making submissions to an illegally constituted caretaker committee.

He then wrote to Dr Mushimba stating that it was unlawful for the minister to constitute a Caretaker Committee without any member of the academic staff from the University.

“In a letter dated 8th October, the Acting Register of the University of Zambia informed the union that you appointed, on the 21st September 2020, a new Caretaker Committee of the University of Zambia to exercise the powers, functions and the duties of the council in absence of one. We learnt from the same letter that you did not appoint to the said caretaker Committee any member of the academic staff of the University of Zambia elected by the academic staff themselves,” Mambwe said.

“Having read the relevant provisions of the Higher Education Act, we are of the considered view that your decision to constitute a caretaker Committee without representation from the cited academic staff renders the Committee illegal. We firmly hold the view that for a Caretaker Committee to properly and lawfully perform the functions of the Council, it must have the same representation of part time members of the council that is provided for under the second schedule of the Act, failing which its decision would be void.”

Mambwe stated that UNZALARU was demanding for the dissolution of the Caretaker Committee as it was improperly constituted and asked for the nullification of any actions which the committee had taken.

“We therefore demand that you forthwith dissolve the purported Caretaker Committee, which is improperly constituted and nullify any actions that it may have taken since its appointment as they are in effect invalid. If you are not in position to promptly appoint a substantive Council in strict adherence to the law and to prevent a paralysis in the operations of the University, we demand that you either constitute a new Caretaker Committee that meets the prescribed requirements of the Act in terms of its composition, or bring back the previous properly constituted Caretaker Committee that you recently dissolved, pending the appointments of the substantive Council,” stated Mambwe.

“We do not recognise your illegally constituted Caretaker Committee and will not submit to it. Please note that we reserve the right to challenge and decisions that this improperly constituted Caretaker Committee purports to make that would adversely affect any of our members.”