THE National Action for Quality Education in Zambia says the culture by government of holding on to funds meant for universities has left a trail of academic destruction at UNZA and CBU.
And NAQEZ executive director Aaron Chansa is also demanding that University of Zambia Vice Chancellor Professor Luke Mumba, and his Copperbelt University counterpart Professor Naison Ngoma immediately resign and allow capable individuals to run the two public universities.
Chansa said in a statement that today, the University of Zambia, as well as the Copperbelt University, were in a shambles not just because the Ministry of Higher Education had neglected the institutions but also because the institutions’ management teams were too economically inactive.
“Because of lack of interest in UNZA and CBU from the Ministry of Higher Education and absence of innovation from management teams, workers at the two important national universities are now two months without getting their salaries. We take special note that our intellectuals at UNZA and CBU are now resorting to protests before receiving salaries. This trend is very sad, embarrassing, an insult to higher education, and an assault on the country as a whole,” he said.
He said NAQEZ finds it very hard to imagine that UNZA, for example, could fail to pay salaries when the institution was receiving a lot of money from East Park Mall rentals, had a state of art industrial printer, has York Farms, Liempe Farm, had distance education students, Marshlands Village and had great potential to build hotels within its premises.
“We cannot believe that both CBU and UNZA cannot pay salaries when the universities have the best brains to make money through consultancy, the Institutions can go into shareholding; they can commercially do farming and massively venture into various enterprises. We are aware that ZAMNET, the first company to bring internet facility in Zambia, was owned by the University of Zambia. Why then are the two Chancellors too moribund that they cannot do anything to add value to the local economy?” he asked.
“Why is it that both UNZA and CBU are no longer attracting foreign students? We want to know why, for example, the University of Zambia cannot sustain parallel programmes; we surely need management changes at UNZA and CBU. We need new blood, we need better ideas for UNZA and CBU to get back to their glory days.”
Chansa reminded citizens that despite UNZA and CBU having financial crises, the two universities had maintained very bloated, duplicative and highly unproductive administrative structures.
“Our deep analysis suggests that these administrative structures at UNZA and CBU must quickly be reformed to promote efficiency and effectiveness in running the two institutions. Further, NAQEZ finds it strange for UNZA and CBU councils to keep the two Chancellors in office in the face of overwhelming incompetency and abuses at CBU and UNZA. The nation needs to know why the two Chancellors are still in office when they have completely failed to manage affairs of the two universities,” he said.
He said NAQEZ was aware that the Minister of Higher Education had been sitting on a dossier against CBU Vice Chancellor.
“Why is the minister dragging his feet and failing to act on this straightforward report? We need to shelve personal interests and mobilise best brains to run UNZA and CBU. We are tired of the confusions at these two universities; entities which were once symbols of national pride,” he said.
“On the other hand, we wonder why the Minister of Higher Education, Hon. Brian Mushimba has refused to facilitate the acquisition of K200 million loan by UNZA to help liquidate the historical financial challenges at the university. We appeal to him to rescind his refusal and help UNZA get back on track through this loan. As an organization, we crave for better funding of higher education in Zambia coupled with superior managers of our universities,” Chansa said.
He demanded that for the Ministry of Higher Education releases UNZA and CBU grants now and also to begin releasing funds to respective universities as soon as the ministry makes loan recoveries from former students.
“The culture by government of holding on to funds meant for universities has left a trail of academic destruction at UNZA and CBU,” said Chansa.