About 9 000 students of Mzuzu University (Mzuni) and the Polytechnic — a constituent of the University of Malawi — should brace for more home time as the civil action the students resorted to Wednesday promises no light at the end of the tunnel.
While Mzuni has been closed for about a month now over staff’s demands for better perks, the Polytechnic is indefinitely closed since last year due to misunderstandings between management and students on changes in the fees structure.
Both institutions, supported by other rights group have several times petitioned government and the universities’ chancellor President Peter Mutharika for what they describe as “gross violation of fundamental human right to education” but there has been no attention given.
President ‘sleeping’ on his job
Youth and Society (YAS), a youth rights group, which has been part of the joint petitions by Mzuni and the Polytechnic has since blamed Mutharika for “sleeping” in his job.
YAS executive director Charles Kajoloweka told Nyasa Times that it was unfortunate that relevant authorities in the country were taking the issue with a grain of salt.
“We are talking of over 9000 young people whose right to education has been grossly violated, and yet the Chancellor, a law scholar by training is simply sleeping over it,” said Kajoloweka.
In a joint ‘Petition of Complaint’ presented to the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), YAS adds her voice by calling upon the Commission to swiftly look into the matter.
Kajoloweka decried that much as efforts to get the attention of the President on the matter, there was “no political will.”
He said it is sad that government has chosen “to politicise a serious matter like this one.”
About two weeks ago, President Mutharika told the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) first congregation that he was not a “solution” to their problems.
He has referred the students back to their councils which have in return proved to be clueless on how to handle the impasse.
The Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) has also weighed in on the impasse by petitioning the Malawi Parliament.
During the presentation of the petition last week the coalition said it utilized rule 58 of the Parliamentary Standing Orders which allows citizens and interested groups to petition Parliament on issues of national interest and wants the Speaker to use his powers of his office to have the matters tabled in the House so that legislators can deliberate.
“Our call for Parliament to use its legislative, representative and oversight function roles to deliberate on the issue and in turn to impress on the relevant authorities to act on the matters,” Benedicto Kondowe, executive director of Csec told Nyasa Times.
“We only hope that the Speaker’s Office will give due attention to have the petition tabled during the Private Members business day which falls on Thursday,” he added.
The petition signed by Kondowe and the coalition’s Board Chairperson Julie Juma, faults government for “unsavoury political statements” which has led to university closure.
“As a country operating in a global village, the worrying development taking place in higher learning education institutions have the potential to further compromise on the standing of our education system in the global market,” the petitions reads in part.
In the petition, Csec argued that the reasons for closure of the universities have been obvious and predictable only that government is by-passing contact and dialogue in dealing with the impasse.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :