THE University of Zambia is in trouble financially and for those who think we just sit and look at these problems it’s not an interesting job at all, says acting Vice Chancellor Professor Enala Tembo-Mwase. Prof Tembo, in a moving explanation on her challenges in the office she has occupied for six years in acting capacity to irate lecturers and researchers, said it was unfair to label her management moribund.
She said her office wass one nobody would like to be in for long owing to the massive challenges that rested on it.
“I was not brought from outside. I have been part of this institution for more than 30 years, so I know the ups and downs of this institution,” Prof Tembo said. “And what we are lamenting here today is not strange at all and yes, ladies and gentlemen, the buck seems to stop at management but you know very well that the prescription of the way we are working, yes management is there but the people who are supposed to be talking to you are our employers.”
She said the idea of “squeezing” money out of the government had not been easy for her management. Prof Tembo complained that her stay in office had presented a crisis every day.
“Like I said yesterday, we are also employees and those employers are actually appointed by the government, where we want the money to come from to look after our affairs. Every month, every single month, we write to our employers of the need of this institution, every single month we do that, but I do not know how this information should trickle down to everybody but that’s how we manage to get what we get every month,” she explained. “It has not been easy for management. I have been in this office for over six years now and every single day it’s a crisis. Every single day we have to explain ourselves.”
Prof Tembo said her management does not rest over the prevailing situation at UNZA.
She sent the audience into laughter when she said that due to the overwhelming responsibilities in her office, her physical outlook had been compromised.
“The financial situation of this institution is well known and every day we are singing about it so I feel it’s a little bit unfair that as management we are being told that we are doing nothing and just sit back,” Prof Tembo said. “That is not true…we don’t rest at all over this institution. The money we put in for us to survive as a university is not enough to give us what we want in terms of infrastructure, in terms of equipment, and all other inputs that are supposed to be put in our teaching activities. But we are in trouble financially and like I said we are a government-granted institution…we are tied! Please…for those who think we just sit and just look at these problems, it’s not true, we are working 24 hours and it’s not an interesting job at all.”
She said UNZA’s image had been watered down due to the cycle of financial woes. Prof Tembo said UNZA was underfunded adding that the grant apportioned to it is channeled into workers’ salaries with nothing left. She said requested by the lecturers and researchers to make an appointment to meet President Edgar Lungu, she had made headways and would inform them the outcome.
“If I showed you my picture when I was just coming in the office…. before and after, but someone has to be there and it’s a job immediately you land in there you would want to come out. But everything boils down to the financial status of the institution. Are you funded enough? We are not and that’s the fundamental issue, we are not funded at all,” said Prof Tembo.
By press time lecturers and researchers were waiting for salaries to reflect in their bank accounts following a promise that the grant had been released.