Court rebuffs Chanco students on injunction against virtual graduation, allows leave for judicial review

The High Court of Malawi has refused to grant an application for interlocutory injunction to Chancellor College (Chanco) students who are protesting the decision by the Council of the University of Malawi to hold a virtual graduation.

Graduands opposing the virtual ceremony, led by law student Alexander Chibayo, said they are seeking a court intervention to stop Unima Council from holding a virtual graduation since Covid-19 preventive measures do not prohibit academic congregations.

The Council recently announced that it would hold a virtual graduation in compliance with restrictions for preventing the spreading the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

However, the decision did not go down well with one section of the finales who argued that a graduation ceremony is not a public gathering, but part and parcel of university academic exercise; hence, it should not be subjected to Covid-19 preventive restrictions.

The aggrieved students, who include Zaithwa Milanzi and 246 others, further argued that the restrictions only prohibit public gatherings that have more than 50 people.

“In our opinion, a graduation ceremony is not a public gathering but part and parcel of university academic exercise. Just like classroom activities, in itself a graduation attended by students does not call for the ire of the measures and in any case Covid-19 preventative measures are capable of enforcement during the course of the congregation,” outlined Chibayo and others in a statement issued on Tuesday.

They suggested that the University Council should instead decentralize the graduation at college level and limit the graduation attendance to essential personnel, which includes graduands as the primary interested parties.

Chibayo and his team further proposed that the Council should introduce other crowd control and preventative measures to ensure that the ceremony does not create additional risk for Covid-19 without affecting impugning on the Covid-19 Guidelines.

But the Council rejected both their suggestions and proposals, a development that prompted Milanzi and his friends to seek the intervention of the court.

The students prayed with the High Court to restrain the University Council from holding a virtual graduation ceremony whose first congregation is scheduled for 28th April, 2021 until results of the students who are writing supplementary (or referral) examinations for the 2019/2020 academic year are approved and subsequently released.

They also sought several reliefs, which included a declaration that the decisions made by the defendants are unjustifiable and a violation of constitutional right to education; orders quashing the respondent’s decisions and directing the applicants to graduate after completing their supplementary or referral exams and respondents hold a traditional graduation ceremony for all grandaunts.

In her ruling on the matter, the presiding judge Ruth Chinangwa has only granted the students leave for judicial review and rejected their application for an interlocutory injunction.

“Leave for judicial review is granted and the application for an interlocutory injunction is denied. The applicant to serve the application on the defendant by 16th April 2021. The defendant to file defence with a sworn statement by 3rd May 2021. A scheduling conference will be held on 10 May 2021 at 1pm,” says Chinangwa in her ruling.

Unima registrar Benedicto Malunga said the decision for a virtual graduation had been arrived at as one way of containing the spread of Covid-19.

President Lazarus Chakwera is expected to preside over this year’s event.

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patriotic writer and reviewer

Akuyesera zida…….. awone kuti kodi zida zawo zikuliradi. Kikikikiki

UNIMA Council not creative enough
UNIMA Council not creative enough
1 month ago

It is possible to breakdown into congregations at constituent college level, probably have the chancellor delegate the conferring to the board members of the University council, and other senior members of the academia. Mu graduation muja muli uthenga, you take photographs with your collegemates in front of a UNIMA logo or the face of your college. Now, imagine we had to go a photo studio to have a pic with our youngest brother but he was not holding his honours degree. Covid-19 watilakwira. Komatu kwa Biwi ndiye tikumazadzana mwakathithi kuchezera daily, mwina chifukwa choti day ina atabwera anthu anawagogomesa mpaka… Read more »

Chisale
Chisale
1 month ago

This is typical UNIMA students thinking. As it is some of them have spent an extra year on their courses due to strikes. Employers won’t be checking whether you had a ceremony or not. It is the qualification that matters. Grow up for a change. This is no time to act like a group. What are your priorities?

Ku State House tikumwa wine, inu mukuta?
Ku State House tikumwa wine, inu mukuta?
1 month ago
Reply to  Chisale

Says the one who badly wanted to graduate from the UNIMA one but failed and here he finds his heart roasted in the fry of envious hate. Ukakhala kuti UNIMA unapondako olo utakhala kape koma ukape wako umakhala wozindikira. Stop hating UNIMA products, ndimadolo ameneaja

Ndadabwa
Ndadabwa
1 month ago

The arguments raised by students stating that graduation is not a public event but to be considered as part of academic class clearly shows the levels of their intellect. What I know any graduation ceremony includes students’ relatives, parents making it a potential covid-19 spreader.

For the students to argue otherwise clearly shows they have not acquired enough skills to reason as graduates. Half baked graduates? Regrettably this is from Chanco.

PelomaPepe
PelomaPepe
1 month ago
Reply to  Ndadabwa

Ndipo inu!! If graduation is not a public gathering ndee ndichani? Do they know the meaning of a public gathering?

Kaa bambo
Kaa bambo
1 month ago
Reply to  PelomaPepe

It is the “part and parcel of the university academic exercise”. I quote.

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