A vocal Malawian blogger, Pearson Nkhoma has accused Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara for being behind the new University of Malawi Act which is said to be threatening academic freedom and kill unionism.
Nkhoma, a PhD in Sociology and Social Policy student at Durham University in United Kingdom, had a Facebook discussion with Kasambara in private inbox, but the blogger has put their ‘chat’ into public domain through social media, where he is accusing the Justice Minister of meddling in the infamous new University Act scheduled for tabling in the current sitting of Parliament
The controversial blogger whose writing earned online journalist Justice Mponda an arrest and the scribe was acquitted recently after the court learnt the real author of the libelous stories was Nkhoma, accused Kasambara of being the architect of the controversial provisions in the Act such as Section 26 (2) which removes powers of appointing deans from lecturers and now gives power to the Vice Chancellor on recommendation from the College Appointment and Disciplinary Committee.
But Kasambara exonerated himself from the Act, explaining that it was prepared by ministry of education (MoE) and UNIMA lecturers were involved.
“I am not behind it. [Please] educate your sources on this. I personally spoke to over 3 lecturers inviting them to send their comments before the Bill was gazetted. To date they have not written back. Now who is not serious? Which part of the Bill thwarts academic freedom? Guys be serious before you personally attack me. Yes you may not like me and I don’t beg you to like me. But please be rational in your attacks,” Kasambara wrote Nkhoma.
But Nkhoma took Kasambara’s statement with a pinch of a salt.
“If the bill was drafted by the MoE as you claim, then why did you take all your time to talk with 3 lecturers? You claim here, you were not part of the guys who created this archaic bill. And if you were talking to them about the bill, it is evident enough that you have been part of the team who proposed this retrogressive bill in the first place,” Nkhoma shot back to Kasambara.
“In other words, you drafted the bill, constructively or literally, supported it. Why not just leave the people who drafted the Bill to seek comments from the lecturers themselves? And, as you claim, lecturers were involved by the MoE, why then waste all your precious efforts to seek comments from three among the people who have already been consulted. You put down arguments as if you are not lawyer qualified with an SC at the end. What a shame. And for God’s sake, you wanted to talk only to three lecturers? You are a joke. A very huge joke Ralph.”
He further wrote: “Do you know what consultation entails. Inviting three lecturers only to send comments to something which has already been drafted and you call that consultation, are you out of your mind? Which lecturers did you invite for the comments? What was the criteria in choosing three out among the hundreds of lecturers Unima has, and out of the trade unions that Unima lecturers belong to. What you did does not even come closer to what consultation entails.
“ I think you need to go to see your doctor and see how consultation is carried out. As a lawyer and politically thanked with an SC, I thought you would know what consultation means. I thinks it’s you who needs educating, not my sources.
No wonder you once put treason charges against [Cassim] Chilumpha. You are a big shame to the profession. “
The blogger then demanded Kasambara to step down.
“Having people like you in the cabinet is 101% retrogressive. No wonder Malawi is not moving forward [because] we have given the mantle to move forward to people with brains like yours. And you want people not to criticise you. You want us, the Malawians to be sober and clap hands at the crap you make? Malawians expect better out of you. And what do you give us in return. Trash!!
“I have one piece of advice: Resign Mr. Kasambara! Resign, because you are failing Malawi. You are taking the public for a free-ride.”
The blogger also referred Kasambara to a Nyasa Times article which captured some academics who are opposing the new Act.
Civil Society Coalition for Education (CSCE) Executive Director Benedicto Kondowe has also expressed reservations to the new Act.
Among ‘atrocious’ provisions are the composition and the process for composition of the Council, the sections on the Academic Advisory Board, composition of the Senate (and the erosion of the representation and power of academics), the inclusion of students in the composition of the Faculty, the tenure of the University Registrar among other several sections.
The lecturers question the lack of consultations and the motive of the Bill.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :