HUNDREDS of University of Zambia (UNZA) students yesterday protested over recent power outages, the ongoing go slow by university staff and they backed calls for the removal of vice-chancellor Professor Luke Mumba.
The students, who set out to seek an audience with President Hakainde Hichilema, marched all the way from UNZA to Addis-Ababa Road where police eventually blocked them from reaching their destination, State House.
During their march, which disrupted traffic for about an hour, the students chanted various slogans, prominent among them was “VC out!”
Speaking on behalf of the students, UNZASU president Gabriel Elias Banda pleaded for President Hichilema’s intervention on the challenges which they faced.
“The vice-chancellor and his management have failed to run UNZA therefore, we want the government to take responsibility and release the duty of the current VC and his management. Students have failed to finish their tuition fees because they come from different backgrounds therefore you cannot stop them from writing exams. We want the government to assist the students by allowing all the students, whether they are registered or de-registered, to sit for their exams. Exams are starting on Monday yet the UNZA main library is closed, lecturers are not working, UNZAWU workers are not working, UNZAPROSU workers are not working, there is a go slow in school,” said Banda.
“Therefore, we are asking for the Ministry of Education, we are asking for the government, we are pleading to our father the President His Excellency Mr Hakainde Hichilema to come and address these issues that we are facing today. Zesco is planning on doing a power outage and one of those affected areas is UNZA, exams are starting on Monday yet Friday, Saturday, Sunday, the power should be cut. How are we going to prepare? And therefore, our only appeal is to the President because he is the only one who can help us. The President is the only one who can help us because he was at UNZA.”
Another student wondered why police were blocking them from going to meet President Hichilema.
Meanwhile addressing the students once he escorted them back to campus, Munali UPND member of parliament Mike Mposha assured them that their issues would be resolved before exams began.
He said the Head of State placed a high premium on education.
“I want to assure you that your President, our President, places a high premium on education and would not want anything which will disturb you as you go in your exams. We want to do everything possible to resolve the issues, we want to resolve all the issues which may end up disturbing your exams. We want to clear them. And I want to say anyone who tempers with your exams or the smooth progression of your exams is an enemy of this country. We want your exams to proceed as scheduled,” said Mposha.
“I have taken note of your concerns as your member of parliament. As I go back, I will convene a meeting this evening with the Minister of Energy, with the Minister of Education and I want you to give me 15 names of representatives of the students, I want your union to be on standby for an urgent meeting this evening. In the next one hour, I will be able to report back to your union as to when we are going to have a meeting. But this meeting, I would like you to highlight all these concerns that have been raised and they should be taken to the relevant ministries this evening. I want you to remain calm. I will be able to consult with my fellow ministers so that even the library which is closed, we shall do everything possible to ensure that there is a smooth flow of your studies. Through the Minister of Education, we will be able to give instructions.”
The three UNZA unions have vowed to maintain the go slow until their demands are met, among them, the removal of Prof Luke Mumba.