Students Union of Chancellor College (Succ) president Israel Masiyano, and three other student activists were arrested in Zomba on Thursday morning for leading students to present a petition to the office of the district commissioner in demand for government to increase their living allowances in line with cost of living.
The students are also demanding that the tuition fees for self-sponsored students be reduced.
The University Council raised the tuition fees from K100,000 to K250,000, but the students argues that the upward adjustment of tuition fees is making it impossible for parents and guardians to fully support the students in the face of high cost of living.
“I have been arrested with three others,” Masiyano told Nyasa Times.
“We were marching because we sought permission from the district commissioner. Police called our march illegal but we have a letter of approval from the DC,” he said.
Eastern Region Police spokesperson Thomeck Nyaude confirmed the arrests.
“Yes we have arrested four students for disorderly conduct,” said Nyaude.
He said the four were arrested for holding what he called an illegal demonstration.
“We have charged them with conduct likely to cause breach of peace. Investigation are ongoing,” said the police spokesman.
The protesting students started their protest march from the college at around 9am while chanting songs of distaste.
Meanwhile, human rights activists who spoke to Nyasa Times said many of the concerns raised by the students are genuine and shouldn’t be ignored or overly dismissed as unreasonable.
“Intimidation, arrests and persecution of student leaders will not solve the crisis. Arresting students and dragging them to court in relation to a peaceful strike is a violation of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly,” said a law lecture at Chancellor College.
“Freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly are foundations of a free and democratic society. Violation of students’ right to freely and peacefully express their grievances, and impunity enjoyed by perpetrators send a clear message Malawi is not free or democratic.”
Last week Friday, students from Polytechnic, another constituent college of University of Malawi, took to the streets to express their anger after they were told that their living allowances will not be raised because government does not have the money increase the allowance.
They also petitioned President Joyce Banda through Anatanzio Chibwana, district commissioner for Blantyre.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :