In a statement to welcome new minister Dr Brian Mushimba, union general secretary Lukanga Kapeshi has stated that they had a lot of expectations from the new Minister, among them to do damage control caused by Prof. Luo.
“Though it won’t be an easy task considering the extent of damage, we believe the damage is not beyond redemption. We have every trust and confidence that Hon. Mushimba will excel in this new portfolio. We are cognizant of the fact that the challenges which are lying ahead are huge but together, with the student populace and stakeholder unions, if we are involved, we will overcome them. And therefore, we would like to offer counsel to our new Minister of Higher Education that he should inculcate the spirit of dialogue, tolerance, inclusiveness and also accommodate divergent views from the Student populace and the stakeholder unions,” Kapeshi stated.
“The closure of the Copperbelt University was inevitable and very unfortunate but had the outgoing Minister engaged the stakeholders in the University, things would not have been the way they are today. Anyway, that is water under the bridge and this was her unfortunate management style which we the stakeholders dreaded. We would like to assure the minister that contrary to the reports that we are used by a known opposition political party to destabilise and interfere in the management operations, we are a non-partisan stakeholder grouping motivated to promote and defend workers’ rights and conditions of service within the Copperbelt University.”
He stated that Eeach time the unions offered checks and balances, the defense mechanism from Prof Luo and CBU management was that they were being sponsored by the known opposition party.
“This also goes to the student populace. In a nutshell, concerns raised by stakeholders in the University are not addressed and this approach has led to a lot of issues being unattended to and continue to remain unresolved. As a result, this has created tensions and mistrust among stakeholders and management. We would also like to advise our new Minister not to engage management alone when resolving challenges in the University, because they will not give a true reflection of the operational challenges on the ground, in the universities and colleges. We appeal to the Minister to engage the stakeholder unions and the students too, for him to have a holistic
understanding of the challenges at CBU and also for him to make good and informed decisions for the betterment of the Higher Education sector, particularly, universities,” Kapeshi stated.
“We also appeal to our Minister to take keen interest in how, particularly, the Copperbelt University management is utilizing our scarce resources. Management at the Copperbelt University has embarked on the project of installing CCTV and building guard houses at both entrances to the main campus as a pre requisite to the reopening of the Copperbelt University. These projects are draining our little and scarce resources which could have
been used towards very needy areas in the University such as, building and renovation of lecturer theatres, buying teaching Aids, among many others. The so called security features, which of course were initiated by the outgoing Minister, Hon. Prof. Luo, are insignificant to the security environment of the University at the moment. We need to dialogue with the Student populace on their demands and reach amicable solution to the demands.”
He stated that the union condemned the riotous behavior of students as a way of airing their grievances.
“However, what is being installed and built in the University campus is just a luxury which we cannot afford at the moment. Please halt these projects Hon Minister and let them channel these much needed resources to needy areas.
We would also like to appeal to the Hon. Minister to quickly appoint University Councils which the former Minister had failed to do for a very long time. This is what is required for good corporate governance and we can guarantee the Hon. Minister that once the Councils are appointed in the public universities, his work will be made easier as these Councils will
be supervising University Managements on the day-to-day running of the Universities,” stated Kapeshi.
“We also urge the new Minister to quickly look into the recommendations of the Ad hoc Committee on the misappropriation of University funds and maladministration at the Copperbelt University. We pledge total support to his administration of the Higher Education and we shall be glad if he operated an open door policy, which has eluded this Ministry for a very long time. We will be engaging him on various issues of mutual interest for a win-win situation.
Welcome to the Ministry of Higher Education, Hon Dr. B. Mushimba (MP).”