Chanco closed, students gets court injunction

Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika on Saturday ordered closure of Chancellor College a constituent colleges of the University of Malawi ‘with immediate effect’ due to students  vigil  pressing University authorities to resolve the stand-off with lecturers.

Assistant registrar at Chancellor College responsible for students welfare Ellias Chizimba confirmed that Chancellor College (Chanco) had been closed and students were told to leave the campus with immediate effect.

Said Chizimba: “I can  confirm about the closure of Chancellor College. Students have been told to leave the College by 12:OO noon on Saturday.”

In a statement, obtained by Nyasa Times, University of Malawi (Unima) announced the indefinite closure.

“The University of Malawi has continued to spend a lot of public resources on the running of Chancellor College at a time when the majority of lecturers are not teaching and when students have not shown keenness to take advantage of the classes that some lecturers were delivering.

Chanco students during their vigil. Photo: Makhumbo Munthali/Nyasa Times

“ This being the case, Council of the University of Malawi, at its Extraordinary Meeting held at the College of Medicine on the evening of 26th August, 2O1l resolved to close Chancellor College with immediate effect,” read the statement.

The statement signed by UNIMA registrar Benedict Wokomaatani Malunga said “during the period of closure, the Council of the University of Malawi will be exploring ways and means of bringing about normalcy to the College.”

The Chanco students have not been attending classes despite its reopening on July 4.

Students Union of Chancellor College (Succ) president Patrick Phiri said there was also heavy presence of the police at Chanco where students were seen scampering for their lives as police officers invaded the campus.

He said students have resolved to seek court redress on the matter. And High Court Judge Joseph Manyungwa later granted an injunction to the students to stop the closure pending an interpartes hearing.

Civil Society Coalition for Quality Basic Education (CSCQBE) executive director Benedicto Kondowe, condemned government for failing to resolve the long-drawn impasse on academic freedom.

And  social-political activist Ben Chiza Mkandawire e-mailed  Nyasa Times from Blantyre to register his dismay at the Mutharika’s decision and criticised his  heavy-handiness in closing down the college.

“Mutharika is discouraging secondary school students from aspiring to go to university. He must resign peaceful,” Mkandawire said.

The University lecturers’ stand-off emanated from an unprecedented meeting between Inspector General of Police Peter Mukhito and Associate Political Science Professor Blessings Chinsinga.

Mukhito accused Chinsinga after he told a public policy class that crises like Malawi’s persistent fuel shortages can lead to insurrections like those that have toppled the governments of President Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.

The lecturers downed their tools in protest against what they called interference of their academic freedom. They demanded an apology from the police chief and assurances of academic freedom.

President Mutharika  said Mukhito will not apologise.

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