Kabwila hails IG Dzonzi for academic freedom assurances

Former president of Chancellor College Academic Staff Union (Ccasu) Dr Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula has hailed newly-appointed Inspector General of Malawi Police Service, Loti Dzonzi, for his visit to Chanco and making assurances that academic freedom in the university will not be trampled upon.

There has been strained relations between the Chancellor College Community and the Police which was mainly caused by the former police chief, Peter Mukhito, who last year summoned University of Malawi political science professor Blessings Chinsinga to account for a comment he made during a lecture.

Mukhito action triggered academic freedom protests that disrupted lecturers for a year.

Kabwila-Kapasula: Bravo Dzonzi

But Dzonzi told Chanco on Tuesday that under his leadership Police will respect academic freedom by stressing that he would expect the Police not to meddle with the intellectual freedom of learners and that there will be no spies in the lecture rooms.

Commenting on the remarks, Kabwila-Kapasula, who championed the fight for academic freedom, said Dzonzi’s visit to Chancellor College is “a breadth of fresh air, a reason to believe relations between Chancellor College and the Malawi Police are turning over a new leaf.”

She said: “I applaud the IG for assuring the Chancellor College community of Academic Freedom, this is an issue that cost Chancellor College and the country 250 days of university education, a loss that is difficult to quantify.”

Kabwila-Kapasula said Police chief’s assurances of academic freedom “illustrate that he understood the principle that CCASU and all those standing in defence of academic freedom were defending: that Academic Freedom be respected in Malawi as enshrined in the constitution.”

She said IG Dzonzi’s remarks are what CCASU wanted to hear from a Malawi Police chief.

“The remarks signal a government officer who respects the rule of the law and human rights principles. He has demonstrated that he is accessible and his comments validate CCASU’s struggle in defence of Academic Freedom,” Kabwila-Kapasula told Nyasa Times from Bavaria, German.

She is at Bayreuth University, as visiting professor to Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies from 16 April to 13 July 2012.

“I was very proud to hear that he [Dzonzi] was flanked by the new CCASU president, Sunduzwayo Madise whose strong and clear remarks at the occasion evidence a vigilant leader who will take CCASU to bigger heights,” pointed out Kabwila-Kapasula.

Meanwhile, Kabwila Kapasula will on June 11 visit Halle University and Martin Luther King University in Germany where there are those students who supported CCASU in the early days of academic freedom struggle.

“I am going to thank them for their support,” she told Nyasa Times.

“I have taken red cloths for them and will present to Laura Graen the one who organised the petition,” she disclosed.

The battle for academic freedom began when Chinsinga discussed the political developments that led to the overthrow of dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia. He was interrogated by Mukhito.

Fellow lecturers reacted swiftly saying they would no longer teach unless they were guaranteed academic freedom.

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