CBU students protest over lecturers strike

Students at the Copperbelt University (CBU) yesterday ran battles with the police when they took to the streets to protest their lecturers decision to down tools

Tear gas canisters were fired to disperse the students who had attempted to block Kitwe’s Jambo Drive.

Police warned that they would not entertain any lawlessness and anarchy from students at CBU.

Kitwe police chief Davies Simwanza said any students who would be caught destroying public property would face the full wrath of the Law.  And CBU students council chairperson, Tobias Makai expressed shock at the work stoppage by lecturers and academic staff at the institution.

Earlier, the lecturers and Academicians decided to go on strike because Education Minister Michael Kaingu had allegedly taken long to act on the findings of the caretaker committee which he tasked with the mandate to look into the affairs of CBU and the conditions that created the impasse which led to the closure of the institution.

The lecturers resolved to go on strike yesterday after the elapse of their five-day ultimatum given to Dr Kaingu for him to act on recommendations contained in the report by the caretaker committee submitted almost a month ago.

CBU Academics Union (CBUAU) president Mwiya Songolo said in an interview that the lecturers had implemented their resolve to go on strike which they made last week when they issued a five day ultimatum to the Education Minister. “Our resolve to go on strike comes after last week’s meeting where we issued a five day ultimatum to the minister that we will go on strike if he does not act on the findings of the Caretaker Committee which he tasked with the mandate to look into the affairs of CBU and the conditions that created the impasse which led to the closure of the institution.

“So since the minister did not beaten our ultimatum by acting on the findings of the caretaker committee, we have decided to go on strike,” Mr Songolo said.

Mr Songolo said the lecturers remained resolved on their demands to have a new management at CBU, which would set the stage for improved education standards at the university. He said CBUAU was impressed that the caretaker committee, which was given two weeks to complete its work, had been focused and committed to its task.

Mr Songolo said the committee completed its mandate on September18, 2015 and had since submitted their recommendations to Dr Kaingu, a move that inspired confidence in the academicians.

And CBUAU acting general secretary Pamela Mutale said the constituting of the caretaker committee by the minister inspired confidence in the academic staff that the way of doing business at CBU would change for the better.

She said the lecturers appreciated the time and effort the caretaker committee put into unearthing the challenges faced by CBU and making recommendations expected to uplift the current status of the institution.  Earlier, the CBU was closed after a go-slow by lecturers demanding the dismissal of Vice-Chancellor Naison Ngoma.

It was opened on August 17, 2015 before students went on recess on October 9.

On Sunday, students started trooping into the university campus to resume their classes before the lecturers announced their decision to down tools yesterday.

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