Thursday, June 16, 2011

Unima Council Declares 4 Chanco Lecturers Pariahs

"this story was compiled anf filed for Nyasa Times"

Kabwila-Kapasula and company are on record to have said that they don’t want to see any victims in the academic freedom struggle, but it seems the University Council of Malawi has other ideas,  on Wednesday evening the University Council issued marching orders to the four ‘ring leaders’ it earlier attempted to fire.

The four are Associate Professor Blessings Chinsinga, Professor Garton Kamchedzera, Franz Amin and Dr. Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula.

“I was working late (around 7.pm) and when I was passing the administration block the head of security [at Chanco] came to me and told me that I was wanted by the assistant registrar,” narrated Kamchedzera in a phone Interview with Nyasa Times, ‘on my way to the registrar’s office I met the college principal who didn’t greet me, a thing I found very unusual.

“The assistant registrar then handed me a letter from Council which said that it was a follow up from the letters they served us earlier when they terminated our contract. The letter said that the council was aware of the injunction [against the fours’ firing] but said that our services were not desired anymore and that we are therefore not compelled to report for work,” said Kamchedzera.

Kamchedzera then revealed that the council had also sent a 10-paged document to the rest of the academic staff telling them among others not to try to engage it in any talks advising instead that all queries should be directed to the principal.

Kamchedzera bemoaned the confrontational approach the council has taken saying it comes at a time when lecturers were trying to engage in dialogue to quickly resume teaching.

Meanwhile Nyasa Times gathered that the few academic staff that were on campus briefly met and a bigger meeting is scheduled for today to chart the way forward on the firing and the continued targeting of the four by the University Council.

The University Council actions also did not go well with Lawyer-cum-Politician, Ralph Kasambara who described the action as retrogressive.

That is contempt of court. Most likely the council's conduct will result in a deadlock. Lecturers might not go back to teach. It means that nothing has changed. Academic freedom is still under threat,” said Kasambara who was speaking from Stockholm.

  Despite President Mutharika suggesting that the closed universities of Polytechnic and Chancellor College be opened by 4 July, the University Council has been steadily making strides in preventing that happening by maintaining the court appeals aimed at freezing the lecturers’ salaries and completely shutting down the universities.

Some quarters in Malawi allege that Mutharika was just playing games when he ‘assured’ academic freedom on national television, because, the people say, as the chancellor of the university he is also head of the University Council hence part of the court actions fuelling the confrontation.

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