University of Malawi Students’ Union (UMSU) president Tionge Sikwese has said he will not resign from his position and that no member of UMSU will resign, rejecting allegations that they received bribes from President Peter Mutharika to accept compromise of a reduction of K50 000 on the recent fee hike.
There have been fevered speculation that the UMSU team that met President Mutharika has been given a sweetenor to accept the K50,000 reduction on fees.
But Sikwese parried away the allegations as baseless.
“We were not bribed these are false allegations,” Sikwese said.
He said in an interview published in weekend paper: “ One should understand the rules of negations, because it is not always that one’s wishes will be granted. As UMSU, we proposed the following figures since we have different category of student paying different fees structure: for K55 000.00 categories we proposed that they should be paying K100 000; for K250, 000 category we proposed that they should be paying K275 000; for the category of K275 000.00, because the fee was already high, we proposed that they should be paying K280 000.00.
“ Finally, we proposed K300 000 as the maximum figure in fees for first years in all the constituent colleges. But to our dismay, which was very unfortunate, we discovered that the University Council had presented to the president K320 000 as the current fee structure which each and every Unima student is paying. So it was like the hike was being effected from the stipulated K320 000. As such, the president’s view, which he said were a win-win situation, was of K350 000 at the negotiation table.”
Sikwese also dimissed assertions that UMSU has betrayed students on the matter, saying “actually UMSU has worked tirelessly on the matter, you can only image since from the month of May up to now day and night we have been working on it, so where is the betrayal coming from? Why resign and on what grounds? I will not resign and no UMSU member is going to resign.”
He continued: “ There are a number of issues which have been said concerning UMSU on this matter of fee hike. But all in all, UMSU is there for the good will of all Unima students and UMSU will never stop fighting for a common good will when it comes to students’ welfare.”
Sikwese said the campaign for affordable tertiary education will continue to be pursued.
“Currently most students are facing a number of challenges; from finding their own accommodation—of which the rentals are very expensive per month—to footing their own meals that average K800 a meal.
“And then there is tuition fees of which a good number struggle to raise. I guess these are enough factors to make the Union fight for its members; hence the noise we are making which has been christened by the hash-tag FeesMustFall! And we are doing this for no other reason apart from fighting for students’ welfare, which I believe is the main mandate we were elected for. And I guess it is just logical to do it now when the country’s economy is also in doldrums.
“Many households, though vital to the socio-economic development of the country, just cannot afford tertiary education for their children; which is very unfortunate.”