Chanco lecturers agree to teach but cautious

Academic dons at Chancellor College, the main constituent college of the University of Malawi, have said they are ready to get back to class after welcoming President Binguwa Mutharika’s directive to have four fired lecturers reinstated and assurances of academic freedom.

Mutharika, through the University Council, fired Chancellor College Academic Staff Union (CCASU), Dr. Jesse Kabwila-Kapasula, the union’s Secretary General Franz Amin, law professor Garton Kamchedzera and associate political science professor Blessings Chinsinga.

In his statement on Tuesday, President Mutharika said he was guaranteeing academic freedom within the conditions of service of the lecturers and ordered that four lecturers be reinstated without any conditions.

Lectures: Academic freedom

The academic dons held a general meeting in Zomba on Wednesday and welcomed the presidential directive as a ‘political suggestion’ on resolving the eight-month academic freedom stand-off, hoping the university regulatory body with adhere to the directive and “ensuring that Chancellor College reopens.”

“As a result, CCASU and other concerned academic members of staff hope that the relevant and competent authorities will seriously consider the suggestions from the Head of State and expedite the necessary process and decisions that incorporate the agreements concluded on 2nd July, 2011 with the University Council’s Task force and during the dialogue between NGOs and Government at Ku Chawe, Zomba,” reads a statement issued by the lectures signed by Kabwila-Kapasula.

“CCASU reiterates its commitment to ensuring that the College is fully operational as quickly as possible,” the statement added.

Legal advisor for the lectures, Kamchedzera said they discussed the contents of Mutharika’s statement “and its implications.”

Kamchedzera said the lecturers were more than willing to teach.

“We have always been ready to go back to work if the conditions we have always put forward have been met,” he said.

Kamchedzera said lecturers will not throw caution to the win and that they have taken “sober reflection” of the whole issue.

The academic freedom saga was triggered when Inspector General of Police Peter Mukhito summoned Dr. Chinsinga on 12 February to interrogate him over a classroom example which he drew parallels with the insurrections that toppled governments in Tunisia and Egypt to Malawi’s current fuel and foreign exchange reserves shortages.

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