Malawi university lecturers defy plea to return to classes: Demand pay rise

The University Council of Malawi has ordered lecturers at the Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, who have been boycotting classes, to return to classes promising that authorities would address their concerns.

The lecturers are boycotting work to press government to increase their salaries by a whopping 113 percent citing the rising cost of life.

But on Tuesday the lectures vowed never to resume work until their demand is addressed adding they were not ready for discussions other than salary adjustment.

The lecturers say they would not be intimidated and will still press for their demands.

Reports reaching Nyasa Times indicate that the University of Malawi recommended a salary hikes especially after the Malawi Government had raised the monthly salary for civil servants by 21 percent and the members of parliament demanded a 137percent pay hike.

Polytechnic campus

It pours

It seems it never rains but pours for the new administration of Joyce Banda. Whilst it is trying to solve the nurses’ strike over night allowances, and the payment problems faced by some school teachers, the Chancellor College Academic Staff Union (CCASU) has also demanded an explanation from its College Registrar, Vyson Jedegwa on the revision of salaries.

In its memorandum addressed to the College Registrar, signed by the CCASU Secretary Symon Chiziwa, CCASU contends that “we have noted that to date, no information has been forthcoming about the issue of revision of salaries within the University. Our colleagues in the public sector have been duly informed of their revised salaries.”

In its earlier communication, the University of Malawi notified the academic staff of a revision of off- station business allowances, University house rental fees, and other rates with effect from July 1, 2012.

CCASU’s memo challenges that that the new allowances and rates are contradictory due to two issues:

Most allowances apply to only small fraction of staff that are privileged to travel and do not benefit a large section of university staff.

The woes

Increasing housing rentals payable by staff by almost 100 percent when their salaries have not been revised does not make economic sense in light of two recent devaluations (which ironically have been supported by some University economists)

In light of these reasons, CCASU have requested the university management to pay special attention to their request and act with haste.

Attempts to contact the Chanco Registrar were unsuccessful, as his phone went unanswered.

In the meantime, the quality of infrastructure at Chanco and other UNIMA institutions continues to dwindle. The buildings look dilapidated; there are leakages in most hostels and classrooms; the library has a huge crack just after the entrance; the books in the libraries are dated (old) and are not on reading lists of most modern universities; the students have to use their own plates in the cafeteria (unlike in the days of Kamuzu when the Colleges provided plates and other utensils).

It is very obvious that even if the College administration fixes this particular problem, there are thousands of problems waiting for attention, and the financial solution lies with the government and not the university.

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