Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika was heckled and jeered by crowds as he delivered his speech at the graduation of students of the University of Malawi at College of Medicine in Blantyre on Wednesday.
Graduates booed Mutharika when he accused four lecturers at Chancellor College ,who have been campaigning for academic freedom, claiming they were “overriding the rights” of thousands of students due to their class boycott since regime spies entered lecture rooms.
Lecturers have vowed not to return to class unless their four colleagues Academic Staff Union (CCASU) Acting President Dr. Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula, CCASU legal advisor Dr. Garton Kamchedzera, CCASU Secretary General Franz Amin and the man at the centre of the controversy, Dr. Blessings Chinsinga, who were fired by the council, are reinstated.
But Mutharika branded the academic dons as “four renegade lecturers” who he said are causing anguish on Malawians.
Said Mutharika: “I want to make it very clear that no matter how wishful one wants to be, no lecturer at this university or any other university can be equal to or above the Chancellor who happens to be the head of state.”
When President Mutharika was speaking, you could hear plenty of boos from the graduating students.
Mutharika, nonetheless, went on: “I also want the lecturers concerned to reflect upon this. They must accept that they are employees of the university and not the bosses.
The President said he was “saddened” by prolonged academic freedom stand-off at Chancellor College.
“Specifically the attitude adopted by some of the lecturers at Chancellor College to frustrate the reopening of normal functions of Chancellor College is retrogressive and self-centred,” he Mutharika attracting embarrassing boos from the graduates.
The academic freedom saga has seen the Chancellor College being twice closed down indefinitely after the warring parties failed to reach an agreement.