Chanco students defiant, vigil on

By Makhumbo Munthali, a correspondent

All is not lost for students at  University of Malawi’s Chancellor College (Chanco) in Zomba who were barred from staging a peaceful demonstration on Thursday have gone flat out with their efforts of bringing their grievances to the attention of the University authorities by rescheduling the postponed vigil to Monday next week.

The students were expected to stage a vigil at the University of Malawi offices in Zomba on Thursday over the continued absence of normal classes, a scenario that has posed a threat to their right to education.

Despite receiving the blessings of Zomba City Council to go ahead with the planned Vigil as reflected in an authentic communiqué presented to the students’ representative body, the Police still went ahead to stop the planned event based, in their view, on security grounds.

Chanco students on campus after police had broke the vigil . Photo: Makhumbo Munthali

In their letter dated 18th August, 2011, signed by Mr SK Maundala [Officer in charge of Zomba Police Station], addressed to the students body, it was maintained that “it was due to the current security situation prevailing in the country” that the Police requested for the postponement of the ‘demonstration’ on the said date.

However, Students Union of Chancellor College (SUCC) speaker Austin Misoya said despite this bad experience the students were more determined than ever to hold this peaceful vigil from this newly slated date.

“The new date was agreed by both parties [Police and Students representatives]. In fact, I have in my possession an official document signed by the officer in charge of Zomba, witnessed by our college’s registrar, clearly indicating that we hold the planned vigil from 22nd August, 2011” said the outspoken Misoya.

Despite its reopening on 4th July 2011, Chancellor College has witnessed almost no learning or teaching with only 20% doing the job, a situation that has greatly affected the innocent students who have been left merely idling- a scenario that has been viewed by various quarters as a threat to their right to education.

T he lecturers are insisting that they will only resume classes in among other things; the University Council rescinds its decision to fire  Chancellor College Academics Staff Union (Ccasu)  acting president Dr. Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula, CCASU legal advisor Dr. Garton Kamchedzera, CCASU Secretary General Franz Amin and Dr. Blessings Chinsinga.

Lecturers at the college started class boycott on February 16 after Inspector General of Police, Peter Mukhito on February 12 summoned political science lecturer Chinsinga for an example in class equating Malawi’s persistent fuel and foreign exchange shortage to the Arab spring responsible for toppling governments in Tunisia and Egypt.

He was reported by a police spy  and was interrogated  on accusations  of inciting insurrection.

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