Unima sues Kabwila-Kapasula over academic freedom costs

The Council of the University of Malawi (UNIMA) has dragged to court former acting President of the university’s Chancellor College Academic Staff Union (Ccassu) the controversial Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula of the academic freedom fame.

The UNIMA council is demanding that Kabwila-Kapasula along with Malawi’s Attorney General pay almost K55 million (almost US$212,000) as compensation to students who sued the council during the academic freedom impasse.

A group of non-residential students are said to have sued the UNIMA council claiming compensation of the money they lost when they were called back to college only to be staying idle as lecturers were still refusing to teach during the academic freedom strike.

Kabwila-Kapasula: Sued

Documents from the Zomba High Court registry filed by the council’s lawyer Kalekeni Kaphale indicate that the council wants Kabwila-Kapasula as the then leader of the academic staff union and
the Attorney General to contribute to the claims.

“The plaintiff (the students) claims against the defendant (the Council) K55,404,800 and damages as appears from the writ of summons and statement of claim, a copy whereof is served herewith,” reads a third party notice to Kabwila-Kapasula and the Attorney General.

The case is registered as civil cause no. 149 of 2012.

Kaphale argues the lecturer’s decision not to teach was not legally sanctioned by labour laws while the Police Inspector General had a part to play by summoning lecturer Blessings Chinsinga for questioning over an example he cited in class.

The Council has given Kabwila-Kapasula, all Ccasu lecturers and the Attorney General 14 days to challenge the proceedings in court.

“And take notice that within 14 days after service of this notice to you; counting the days of service, you must acknowledge service and state in your acknowledgement whether you intent to contest the
proceedings,” reads the writ.

The academic freedom strike lasted more than eight months with the then Inspector General of Police Peter Mukhitho, who was being backed by former President late Bingu wa Mutharika, refusing to apologise.

Two weeks ago Chancellor College hosted an Academic Freedom Symposium that was among several others attended by President Joyce Banda.

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