Education activists spit fire over ‘reversal’ of University of Malawi unbundling, says council decision illegal

Education activists have asked the University of Malawi (Unima) Council to reverse its decision of “cancelling” the delinking of UNIMA’s four constituent colleges, saying the council acted illegally.

Bennedicto Kondowe (center) spits fire at the news conference as Limbani Nsapato sit (right) Yandula Chipeta (left)

Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe actually fully supports the delinking, saying it leverages Malawi’s potential to utilize her universities to the best of their capacity for the betterment of the younger people and indeed for the betterment of the national development.

The unbundling of Unima, aimed at establishing its constituent colleges as fully fledged standalone universities, was approved in 2017 by Unima’s council and sanate, leading to formation of a “delinking taskforce” which consulted all relevant stakeholders and made recommendations to Malawi Parliament to enact laws that would support the establishment of the universities.

In early 2019, Parliament did approve three bills that were signed into law by the Office of the President.

What has remained now is for the Minister of Education to set a date for operationalization of these laws in order to commence the delinking of Unima.

However, in a move that has angered CSEC and other stakeholders, Unima council on Wednesday reversed the 2017 decision it made with the senate, saying it was ultra vires (done beyond the two structures’ legal power or authority) and not in line with the powers and functions of the senate and the council.

“In view of the foregoing, the council resolved to set aside the process of delinking the constituent colleges of the University of Malawi.

“Council, however, resolved that a functional review be conducted to guide council on the way forward in addressing areas which require improvement and to embrace aspirations towards enhancing the efficiency of the university,” read part of the council’s statement after what it termed as its 117th extraordinary meeting.

However, speaking at a news conference in the Capital, Lilongwe,  Kondowe, condemned Unima Council’s decision, describing it as illegal and retrogressive.

“No any other organ or agency of the state can undo that which has been approved by the legislature. This is a matter of simple logic and a matter of the law. Unima council has set a very bad precedent. Their decision is not supported by the law,” said Kondowe, flanked by Limbani Nsapato from Edukans International and Yandula Chipeta from ActionAid Malawi.

Kondowe added that CSEC will be engaging Unima Council and the Minister of Education over the matter and called upon President Lazarus Chakwera to intervene.

“The president’s commitment that he wants to see the delinking process finalized in the first year of his reign, offers a good starting point. We hope the president will not just watch. He must provide the needed leadership. This a critical moment that we need to deal with the matter decisively,” he said.

Added Kondowe: “This issue, if not handled properly, has the potential to create chaos within the constituent colleges and Unima. It also has the potential to disrupt the university system. So, the president must be concerned and lead in a process of solving the issue as a matter of urgency”.

Taking his turn, Nsapato trashed the Unima functional review the council proposed, saying it will be irrelevant and a repeat of the rest of the process which is almost done to the delight of all relevant stakeholders.

And Chipeta concurred with Kondowe and Nsapato, adding that the delinking process cannot be stopped at this stage because alot has already been invested.

The constituent colleges of Unima are; The Polytechnic in Blantyre, Chancellor College in Zomba, College of Medicine in Blantyre and Kamuzu College of Nursing in Lilongwe.

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1 year ago

It is not a Law yet despite being deliberated in Parliament. So there is nothing illegal. Those who feel the Council broke the law, let them go to court to challenge the decision.

Mwadza mwatipeza
Mwadza mwatipeza
1 year ago

Shame to this council and its membership.. they are releasing justification informing there decision written like a class assignment. Whoever is assigned to write is a school boy.. I fact this delinkingnwas supposed to be done in 1988. Instead of introducing quota, delinking would have been proposed and implemented. We are 32 years late. I agree, the president should act the way he did with MANEB issue. God bless you and long live mr president. Koma anyamata anu ku Zomba sakulifunira zabwino dzeko lathuli.

1 year ago

If the decision by Council is indeed illegal, which I think it is, then take them to court rather than these media stunts. Council must understand that they can’t handle the institution like a personal farm. Does Council have a legal power to stop what Parliament already decided? No!!!!!

1 year ago

Obviously its illegal. Wirima is not just foolish but visionless. Let him step down together with his fellow dunderheads in unima council.

Patrick Phiri
Patrick Phiri
1 year ago

This government is a disaster

William Chirwa
1 year ago

This shows that in Malawi even th3 most educated who are supposed to be the light and leaders the shapers of future lawyers educationists etc make such silly decisions four years done the line then we are never going to emancipate from the yokes of poverty ignorance mediocrity. Shame on you guys. To the president be divisive we don’t want another Kabwila saga

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