COPPERBELT University students say the decision has paved way for a clear exit for President Edgar Lungu.
And former Copperbelt University Students Union Academics secretary Boldwin Chinyama says the government decision announced by higher education minister Professor Nkandu Luo to abolish meal allowances is unconstitutional.
Higher education minister Professor Nkandu Luo on Wednesday announced a government decision to abolish giving students at UNZA and CBU meal allowances, consistent with a statement she made last December on the subject.
Last December, Prof Lungu said starting this year parents should take the responsibility of taking care of their children in school and that the government wants to concentrate on other bigger things.
“The Minister of Higher Education Professor Nkandu Luo has announced that considering the increasing number of higher education institutions in Zambia, both public and private who must benefit from the Student Loan Scheme, new beneficiaries will not be granted loans equivalent to their applications. This means that all new loan beneficiaries will be granted a single disbursement of funds per semester or year as the Higher Education Loans and Scholarships Board may determine in line with the higher education loans and scholarships Act No. 31 of 2016,” the statement read.
Prof Luo said it had become necessary that available resources be spread to all public universities and progressively as funds begin to increase, extend to the other higher education institutions.
She explained that the loan amount will not be segmented into tuition fees, book allowances, project allowances, or meal allowances as was the case with the previous disbursements.
“The Loan shall prioritise tuition and accommodation fees which shall be paid directly to the institutions. The difference from other loan components, i.e. book and project allowances shall be paid directly to the students,” Prof Luo said.
She said any amounts granted as loan shall be recovered as prescribed by the enabling Act.
“This notice is only for the new loan beneficiaries for 2019 upwards and does not affect existing loan beneficiary contracts at the higher education institutions, that is, the University of Zambia, Copperbelt University, and Kapasa Makasa University,” said Pro Luo.
But some CBU students have vowed to teach the PF a lesson.
“We are starting with Edgar Lungu. Madam Nkandu Luo can’t make a decision without the President knowing and authorising it. So it is not madam Luo that has scrapped the meal allowances. It is President Edgar Lungu. He has moved away from what ba tata ba Sata stood for. So we have an opportunity to teach Mr Lungu and his PF a lesson,” said the students.
And in a statement yesterday, Chinyama stated that students from CBU and UNZA were poor that was why they apply for meal allowances.
“The scrapping of meal allowances for first students at the Copperbelt University and the University of Zambia is purely malignant, uncalled for and unconstitutional,” he stated. “I strongly believe that students from the two public highest learning institutions are poor, that’s the reason they apply for the student loans. First year students come from homes where there is extreme poverty and hence meal allowances help to sustain their lives while on campus. The scraping of meal allowances can lead them to indulging in immoral activities for them to access the basic necessities.”
Chinyama stated that the 7th National Development Plan strongly talks about “Not leaving anyone behind”.
Meanwhile, lecturers at CBU are still waiting for their January salaries. The unionised workers have withdrawn their labour until they are paid their dues.