University of Malawi (Unima) Students Union (Umsu) and Polytechnic Students Union (PSU) members have justified their decision to walk out of a meeting Unima Council called to iron out differences surrounding fees hike ahead of the college opening early February 2017, saying it was “connived one.”
Umsu General Secretary, Dalitso Dulani said their leadership noticed that University Management had set a good foundation to advance their agenda and they decided to withdraw from the meeting and organised a news briefing to tell the nation what had happened in that “connived meeting” at Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) Lilongwe Campus..
“The meeting was a connived one. They invited the so called parents from the cities. Their representation as well as the creteria used to identify such parents is highly questionable. The constitutionality sorrounding their grouping is beyond doubt not within the legal frame work of the Republic of Malawi. The question is how did a sea of thousands of parents across the nation turn into less than 15 parents without a formal selection creteria.? That leaves alot more to be desired,” said Dulani in a statement to students.
He further said: “The University Management, without the knowledge of UMSU and PSU invited about 5 students from the Polytechnic and had agreed with them to frustrate the actions of UMSU and PSU during the meeting. UMSU asked the University Management to ensure that the students in question are not part of the meeting but University Management insisted that they be part of the meeting knowing that they were put in with an aim to advance their Agenda.
“We also feel that University Management has made external agreements with some members of PSU. These includes; Owen Patel-The Vice President, Alexander Chigalu-The Financial Controller and Tadala Sambakusi-Director of Clubs and societies. From the meeting proceedings, It clrearly showed that the mentioned members had connived with The university Managemnet so as to suppress the direction taken by UMSU and PSU on the matter. They even went against the PSU President in the meeting yet it is a plain story that the issue of timing of implementation of fee hike was sorted out in court.”
Addressing a news conference, Umsu president Tiwonge Sikwese and his PSU counterpart Frank Msiska told said the council invited them to persuade students to “contravene a court order, which compels The Polytechnic not to effect the raise on continuing students”.
Sikwese also questioned the criteria the council management used to select representatives of the parents at the meeting who came driving posh vehicles, meaning they are from well-to-do families; hence, could not give a true picture of the neediness of the students opposed to the fee hike.
A resolution by Unima council to adjust upwards fees for both generic and mature entry students has riled a cross-section of the society, which feels the raise is ill-timed as Malawi is sailing through tough economic times.
The council pegged the new fees structures for generic students from K55 000 to K400 000, K275 000 to K400 000, and K275 000 to K900 000 for mature students.
This prompted students from the public universities mainly Chancellor College (Chanco), Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) and The Polytechnic to protest the hike.