Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bingu to issue statement on Unima impasse

President Bingu Wa Mutharika has said that he will ‘soon’ issue a statement where he will address the issues of academic freedom and the calendar crisis facing the University of Malawi’s sister colleges, Chancellor and Polytechnic.

Mutharika said this at a roundtable meeting at the state house in Lilongwe between him, Mukitho and University of Malawi student union leaders.

The Meeting which has just ended saw tempers rising and lecturers from Poly and Chanco boycotting it for not being formally invited.

An inside source told NyasaTimes that the meeting which started later than slated saw Bingu saying that he would address the Unima impasse once and for all.

“He [Bingu] said he will issue a statement soon to address the issues of academic freedom and calendar crisis, that was after the students defended the importance of Academic freedom and the need for universities to be opened soon.”

However Mutharika could not say how soon he would release the statement and after the students asked for a timeframe he reminded them of how he hates to be given ultimatums.

The source also said that Lonjezo Sithole was personally picked on and labelled “spokesperson of the lecturers,” a move that disturbed the young man’s peace for a while.

Earlier Pascow's chairman, Griffin Salima confirmed that Polytechnic lecturers were not attending because they did not get formal invites.

“I cannot speak for Chancellor College but as for Poly we didn’t go because we had no invitations and that means there are implications in going and not going [to attend the talks],” said Salima.

Asked how they let the meeting go ahead without the main stakeholders, the source said the students raised the issue but agreed to continue in the interest of students.

Meanwhile there is a surge of hope among students from Poly and Chanco that the universities will be opened soon. A snap survey of social media on the cyber sphere shows high levels of optimism with one event inviting students to be on campus by 1st July.

“We are growing and if we delay more we will not be able to get back into school mood that apart from what an idle mind can do. People can get HIV during this unplanned and elongated holiday,” one student wrote.
There were 3 students from Chanco, 2 from Poly and the rest were government officials.

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