Higher education sector under President Lungu (2015 2021)

We are so happy that our former President Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu wants us to be honest with each other as a nation and begin to tell it as it was. We gladly welcome this sincere life that Mr. Lungu is espousing. This will definitely bring about true reconciliation and peace.

In doing so, with sincerity and purity of heart and mind, we reflect on Mr. Lungu’s performance sector by sector. I take on the higher education sector under Mr. Lungu’s presidency as other people would review other sectors. The following review applies to the higher education sector:

  1. In government colleges and universities promotions were based on political patronage. Interviews for promotions and appointments were merely academic exercises as what counted the most was one’s tribe and connection to the former ruling party.
  2. Polarization of scholarship and loans award- increasingly, one needed political connections to access scholarships for overseas studies. It is not surprising to note that those students studying in Russia, Ukraine, Morocco, Cuba, United Kingdom, and Australia are mostly connected to former PF officials.
  3. Retiring of lecturers in national and public interest- lecturers in government colleges perceived to be sympathizers of the opposition UPND were selectively punished through retirement in national and public interest. Many of them their only crime was their tribe.
  4. Scrapping off of student meal allowances- at the height of student protests arising from delayed meal allowances, PF decided to scrap of student meal allowances. This decision was not made in public interest but rather in the interest of the party as it struggled to meet it’s obligations at the peak of swelling domestic and foreign debt.
  5. Students’ unions were banned – in a rather autocratic tendency, the PF could not contend divergent views. They lived a false life and glorified self praise. Any opposing voices mercilessly dealt with. It remains a Shane that even students unions were perceived to be a threat to the PF hold of power, hence the illegal move to outlaw students unions in public universities.
  6. Deregistration of the University of University of Zambia Researchers and Lecturers Union( UNZALARU)- the union found itself battling for it’s survival during the whole of Mr. Lungu’s presidency. It’s deregistration was only reversed by the court. Under the PF, UNZALARU was seen as a dangerous grouping that could sway public opinion against the PF. Thus it was undesirable as it threatened the PF hold to power.
  7. Increased cases of students being expelled- shockingly, under the PF everyone was expected to be a PF member or sympathizer. The party operated more or less like it was in a one party rule. Students’ freedoms of association and assembly were curtailed. Those students found associating themselves with the opposition UPND suffered several forms of mistreatment such as termination of Bursary/loan contracts and/or expulsion from school. As I write, my heart is with Lishebo Lisimba, Longpath Chakaya, Iñutu Kabika, Tobias Kapanga, Inonge Milensu, Kennedy Mokomani, Obert Shapande, Milimo Hambulo, Sitwala Mukubesa, Chrisencia Zulu, and Regan Mweemba who were expelled from from UNZA, CBU, Evelyn Hone College, and Mulungushi University on grounds that they were UPND (disguised as inciting riotous behaviour).
  8. Brutal use of force on students- it was a new trend under Mr. Lungu’s PF to apply disproportionate force on students every time they protested. Live ammunition were used with restrain and several students suffered bullet wounds from police shootings. In unfortunate circumstances, deaths were even recorded.
  9. Politicization of the higher education sector. The higher education sector became highly politicized to an extent that appointment to management positions in the Ministry of Higher Education, public universities, colleges and across agencies in this sector became hugely influenced and decided by the PF. Justifiably so, the PF manifesto required that all heads of such institutions were uncompromising members of the PF. Besides, decisions by technocrats in the Ministry of Higher Education became so partisan as they were made in the interest of the PF and not in the best interest of the country.
  10. Loss of academic freedoms. The insecurities of the PF saw academics fail to express themselves for fear of retribution. Those that were brave enough to speak their mind or publish what was perceived to be threatening the PF’s hold to power were severely scathed by the PF and their agents. The climax of this degeneration of academic freedoms was experienced when a renowned political historian Dr. Sishuwa Sishuwa observed that the PF had deeply divided the country to near civil war and that victory by the PF could just lead the country into turmoil. Dr. Sishuwa was attacked from all corners by the PF and their agents who dragged him to court. His life was threatened and his job too as UNZA management fell into the political gallery. Not to forget that he was even accused of treason by the former Zambian Ambassador to Ethiopia Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba.
  11. Fights between the Minister of Higher Education and Lecturers/students – never before in the history of our country had we recorded such a fierce relationship between the Minister of Education and the students/ Lecturers. The animosity that existed between Prof. Nkandu Luo and the Lecturers in universities and colleges as well as students caused national anxiety. It was a relationship of a cat and a mouse. Her anger towards students and Lecturers was always let out whenever she spoke. Her venom manifested in repeated closures and the ultimate scrapping off of meal student allowances. The nation is still shocked that President Lungu settled on Prof. Luo as his running mate in the August 2021 election. With that choice, we can safely say that the PF had a scary plan for the higher education sector!

Shall the others take on the other sectors and tell it as it was in the spirit of healing the nation. Let’s end hypocrisy!

Martin Mushumba
A sincere citizen


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