Chanco strike to go ahead over University of Malawi pay disparity

Chancellor College Academic Staff Union (Ccasu) has vowed to proceed with their planned strike over pay disparity among University of Malawi (Unima) constituent colleges.

Malunga: What apartheid?

Lecturers at Chanco, a constituent college of Unima alongside their colleagues at The Polytechnic, Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) and the College of Medicine (CoM), want Unima to resolve salary disparities among staff in similar grades in the four colleges as they are protesting the fact that some staff at the College of Medicine (CoM) get about 40 percent extra pay compared to their colleagues in similar grades at Unima’s other constituent colleges.

But Unima registrar Benedicto Okomaatani Malunga justifies the arrangement, arguing it has been in existence since 1991 when College of Medicine was established by Professor John Chimphangwi.

Malunga quashed what Ccasu president Anthony Gunde described as an “apartheid” system where some staff within the same Unima are getting different pay from the same employer for doing the same work.

“What kind of apartheid is this when some people work in the night teaching and training students and attending to patients when the rest of us are at home sleeping?” wondered Malunga.

Malunga explains that lecturers at CoM “go an extra mile to render clinical services in the hospital as doctors on duty who have their salary topped up by 40%.”

He accused the academic staff of neglecting the conciliation report produced by private practice lawyer Modecai Msiska dated February 22 2017 which has recommendations including that the university should declare its commitment to the single salary structure, among others.

Education activist Benedicto Kondowe said government should consider the issue of salary harmonisation, emphasising that failure to do so will lead to complications within the system.



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23 thoughts on “Chanco strike to go ahead over University of Malawi pay disparity”

  1. Experienced HR Consultant says:

    Malawi is used to mediocrity. It cannot have good things. The good thing that was ever done to university education was to delink Bunda from UNIMA. As a result Bunda is making more progress raising billions for LUANAR. Just like LUANNAR COM raises billions for the college. if Malawi wants a medical school then delink it from UNIMA or just close the college down to keep Chancol lecturers happy. Those little salaries that keep chancol lecturers within UNIMA are not enough to keep good medical doctors within UNIMA its as simple as that! Malawians are used to being treated by clinical officers and medical assistants so what the heck!!! Close damn COM now!!!

  2. tyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy says:

    To be frank, COM lecturers do not deserve extra 40% for just supervising students at the hospital. Whatever they are doing is not an extra work.. but just their normal duty.

    Because your module demands more delivery hours is not an excuse to justify extra pay…. coz you are/were employed just to do that…

    If whatever these guys are doing is beyond their normal duties…. then extra effort should be rewarded in form of allowances… not Salary.

    Lecturers in other colleges equally do extra duties..


  3. Owonelera wafunsa funso labwino says:

    Owonelera, yours is also a good question but I I think it has been answered already by some of the comments here. However let us expand it this way:- Usually, universities that train doctors have their own hospitals. These hospitals are called “ACADEMIC HOSPITALS”. So in simple terms UNIMA should have its own academic hospital and employ lecturers to teach, researchers to do research and doctors to deliver a service in their hospital. As it is, UNIMA has no academic hospital but uses MOH hospitals. There is no way you can expect MOH to pay UNIMA doctors who are supervising UNIMA students in MOH Hospitals. Infact, UNIMA pays MOH doctors 40% salary to supervise UNIMA medical students in MOH hospitals. Think about that for a moment and see if it would make sense for MOH to pay UNIMA doctors in this scenario. Bottom line is that you can not train doctors without a hospital/without service delivery.

  4. Busy Signal says:

    Sure, extra work attracts only allowances and not full salary addition. Unima office should tread carefully otherwise might end up into chaos if other colleges join.

    1. Daft says:

      It’s a salary top up. There are many other salary top ups in UNIMA, even MOH etc etc. Don’t be daft.

  5. Chikopa says:

    Without COM, UNIMA is just as useless as used toilet paper. CHANCO only boasts of Law Department which has failed to graduate into Law School and be separate from UNIMA. If this happens, CHANCO will be more or less like Mtambanyama Teachers Training School. Hahahaha! Why does CHANCO consider itself great? These are different constituents and MODECAI Msisha is not a great lawyer and his ex-wife Tapiwa can agree and therefore his report is useless. He is not HR Consultant nor Practitioner and is not expert in industrial relations matters. Apatu mwabetsa inu a CHANCO and you should be fired as you are expendables.

  6. Malanda jm says:

    The issue of different salaries has been a long standing issue , who is suppose to solve this ? its like a pazzle . we have medical schools and other universities in other african countries why cant we borrow a leaf and see what happens? lets think of our children and mother malawi. zoona mpakana atiuze zochita ochoka kunja !

  7. Hlabezulu Ngonoonda says:

    Is it true that the College of Medicine was established by Professor John Chimphangwi? College of Medicine of the University of Malawi in Blantyre started as a project in 1986 operating from an office next to Dalton Road Magistrate Court in Limbe. This was during the Kamuzu Banda government era. By 1991 the college was fully established with the first group of doctors getting first trained in Great Britain before completing final year in Malawi and graduating in 1993. Previously doctors were trained in South Africa, Great Britain and Australia. Sadly, most of the first group of doctors that graduated from that college left Malawi. Verification required on who established the college …

  8. M.D says:

    someone is working as a lecturer as well as attending patients at the hospital,he/she spent 3+ more years than you to attain those two degrees of medicine and surgery,but you are just a lecturer and yet you demand equal pay…what a nonsense..thus being too selfish

    1. Gas Machine Head says:

      Who do you work for at the hospital? Is it UNIMA? The answer to this question will tell you on who is expected to pay you

  9. Gas Machine Head says:

    hahaha Mr Malunga. We at CoM know that this is a lie. There are many medical doctors here who get 40 per cent extra but have never worked in government hospitals. There are many who have their own hospitals but UNIMA pays them 40 per cent on top of their lecturing thinking they also render clinical services at Queens. Do you know that? Do you know that the 40 per cent is paid to even those on study leave? There are lecturers in physiotherapy, Lab Science and do not get 40 per cent. Mr Malunga, you remember that you were once a Registrar here and we forewarned you that this issue of having two salary pay-scales will one day explode? Here you have a bomb in your hands, deal with it. If anyone one works outside the UNIMA system, let whoever has employed them there pay them. UNIMA paying someone for working outside the UNIMA territory is absurd.

    1. Truthful says:

      This is correct reasoning. Why should a lecturer who works under UNIMA of the Ministry of Education be paid by UNIMA of the Ministry of Education for working at a hospital under Ministry of Health? And why should their extra workload be rewarded through a SALARY and not an ALLOWANCE? They will always be advantaged over their colleagues in terms of pensionable benefits when they retire. On the other hand, if their perks are treated as an allowance, it won’t affect future pensions and ONLY those involved in clinical work and ACTUALLY visiting the hospital will receive the ALLOWANCES.

      Even those working at Chanco, Poly or KCN do receive allowances for extra work that they do. Why don’t you use the same formula for CoM?

      1. Chiphangwi says:

        Truthful, do the lecturers at Chanco know that there are part-time lecturers in UNIMA? Some of these part-time lecturers in UNIMA with COM are called clinical lecturers. They are Ministry Of Health specialists who supervise COM medical students in the hospitals. They are paid 40% of the UNIMA lecturers’ pay (on top of their MOH salaries). This means that COM rightly recognizes that clinical supervision of medical students is part of its core duty. Students on clinical rotations in the hospital need patients to train on. Patients are not guinea pigs – they do not go to hospital for the purpose of being experimented on by students; hence clinical supervision of medical students in the hospital involves taking care of patients. For example, if you want to teach students how to draw blood you can not just walk up to a mother of a Chanco lecturer who is admitted to QECH and tell the student to draw the blood while you watch to see if the student will carry out the process properly or not. Rather, you and your students need to be part of the team that is looking after this mother of the UNIMA lecturer and take history, examine her, write orders, follow-up results, follow-up the patient etc (so that when the patient needs blood drawn then you can supervise your students to take that sample) and this is a time consuming process. There is no way anybody will accept to do this extra work for the same pay on top of what everybody else does i.e. come to work, deliver classroom lectures/practicals and go home.

        The core duties of COM are teaching, research and service delivery. Those that are delivering services in COM are not doing anything outside the mandate of COM. Everybody in COM teaches students. When one does research on top of teaching, they get extra income including extra salary. When people are providing a service in addition to teaching, they should also get extra salary. Others may do all the three things, they should surely be compensated accordingly. Otherwise this issue is being given oxygen by disgruntled non-clinical lecturers within COM which is surprising because they should know what it takes to train a medical doctor.

        1. Kon says:

          But then if, as you say, service delivery is one of the core duties, and if, again as you say, teaching students through practical at the hospital is also core, then should they get extra pay for that?

          1. Good question says:

            Kon, that is a good question. The answer is “equal pay for equal work, and more pay for more work”. A lecturer is employed to TEACH, to LECTURE!. I am sure you understand that!. So when a lecturer also serves as a DOCTOR, a medical DOCTOR, a MEDICAL SPECIALIST – he/she should be paid as a lecturer and as a doctor! For example if Chanco lecturers in the LAW department were also handling cases in courts as part of their duty to train lawyers would you expect those lecturers who are functioning as legal representatives or magistrates etc to get the same pay as lecturers who are not taking part in court processes but just delivering lectures?

          2. Owonelera says:

            Iwe Good Question, then why should UNIMA (Ministry of Education) be responsible for paying extra salary for someone who did work at QECH (Ministry of Health). Noone is saying COM lecturers dont deserve extra pay for their clinical work…but that should come from the right pocket for the sake of sanity and peace.

    2. Thinker says:

      Gas Machine Head, so QECH is outside UNIMA territory? Do you think you can train medical students without a hospital? And those in physiotherapy and lab sciences that you have mentioned, are they working at QECH with patients and patient samples? Is it not that e.g. the lab sciences, charge QECH patients fees when they process their specimens (in cases where the tests that they do are not available at QECH) which the respective departments then share at the end of the year as extra income? Why is it that at COM many promotions go to non-clinical departments? For example, how many full professors are there at COM and how many of those are in clinical departments? The vast majority of these full professors are in non-clinical departments. The lecturers in these non-clinical departments are busy doing research (earning huge amounts of extra income as well as easier paths to promotion) while those in clinical departments are busy attending to patients. Think sometimes!

      1. Gas Machine Head says:

        How about KCN lecturers who also supervise and train nurses in the public hospitals? Do they get extra pay from UNIMA? How about Education lecturers who supervise students in teaching practice? Do they get more in salary that others? A daft argument from the “Thinker”

        1. Phinjo says:

          KCN lectures my foot. They do not even attend to patients. Aimlessly walking around the corridors shouting to patients and off they go. If anything give to those LAb technologists and physiotherapists IF they do wish to go the hospital and help out

        2. Thinker says:

          Gas machine head, as far as I know KCN uses what they call clinical instructors (same model which College Of Health Sciences uses), they DON’T go to QECH and deliver nursing services! No KCN lecturers spend the night in government hospitals on night duty delivering injections, dressing woulds, dispatching dead bodies. Even during the day they do not do that – NEVER! You need information to think – don’t be lazy.

      2. tyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy says:

        Research can be done by anyone…. Whether Under clinical department or non clinical.. Incase you don’t know, core duties of a Lecturer under Unima are:

        1. Lecturing
        2. Research & consultancy
        3. Outreach

        Hence, no one is supposed to get extra pay because of supervising students….. THAT IS THEIR NORMAL DUTY

        1. Naughty says:


        2. Outreach My foot! says:

          This is a kind of issue that those who can understand it will understand it and those who can’t won’t. It is ridiculous to compare working with patients as being the same with an outreach. The texts pasted below are available on the internet. HMS uses the UNIMA model, i.e. they have no hospital of their own. Notice that physicians have double appointments as physicians in their hospitals as well faculty at HMS. There is no way someone with such a double appointment would earn the same salary as someone with a faculty appointment only. The second example below is from an institution that has its own hospital practice. Again notice that physicians are employed as physicians by this university and they are also given a faculty appointment. Another illustration: the “Association of schools of public health” from the USA published faculty salaries that can be downloaded from the internet. Here is an example:- Professors are divided into physicians and non-physicians. In one of the schedules the mean salary for professors who are physicians is USD187,427 whereas professors who are non-physicians their mean salary is USD157,378. Same grade, different salaries depending on whether one is a physician or not. The idea that a surgeon, for example, can be employed as a lecturer and earn the same salary as a chanco lectuer teaching English language is ABSURD!

          The solution to the chanco madness is to delink COM from UNIMA and form a medical university. As it is, UNIMA mixes together different professions that can not understand the complexities of some of the professions involved. In any case, it does seem silly to go on strike for the reasons stated. Say the authorities satisfy those striking by taking away the additional pay given to the physicians so what would those striking have gained? Typical Malawian backward thinking, tifanane. Universities should generate funds for themselves and a progressive academician should look for ways to generate income rather than waste time fighting the income of colleagues.

          From the internet as referred to above:-
          “But teaching and research extend beyond the Quad. Unlike many medical schools, HMS (Havard Medical School) does not own or operate hospitals, relying instead on agreements with 16 clinical affiliates and research institutes, vital partners that provide patient care and clinical training. These hospitals and institutes employ many physicians and scientists with Harvard Medical School faculty appointments. All told, the Faculty of Medicine includes more than 12,000 individuals working in classrooms, clinics and laboratories across Boston and Cambridge.”

          “As the School of Medicine’s clinical practice, Washington University Physicians is among the largest academic practices in the nation. This highly active and collaborative group of more than 1,300 university-employed physicians represents more than 76 specialties and subspecialties in medicine and surgery.

          Our physicians are also members of the medical school’s full-time faculty, playing a pivotal role in educating tomorrow’s leaders and shaping the future of medicine.”

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