KITWE district commissioner Chanda Kabwe has warned striking lecturers at the Copperbelt University (CBU) to desist from holding Government to ransom because they will be exposed and fired.
But CBU Academics Union (CBUAU) president Mwiya Songolo has strongly condemned the threats by Mr Kabwe and has instead advised him to concentrate on supervising the issuance of National Registration Cards (NRCs) and voter registration.
Mr Kabwe said some striking lecturers at the CBU were trying to hold Government to ransom because they were being used by some political parties to fan confusion at the institution.
The Kitwe DC was speaking during a press briefing at his office which was attended by the Copperbelt University Students Union (COBUSU) led by union president Humphrey Mwenya.
“The situation at CBU is more of a political situation than anything else. We know some senior lecturers at CBU are being used to fan confusion at the institution by some political parties. We know what is happening and we will move in and deal with the issue.
“This is a timely warning because once we move in, all the architects of confusion at CBU will be exposed, expelled and fired. Political parties are flashing a lot of money at CBU to cause confusion,” Mr Kabwe said.
But Mr Songolo advised Mr Kabwe not to talk about the situation at CBU because he was too junior and incapable of handling matters at the institution. He said Mr Kabwe should not try to gain political mileage by issuing statements regarding the situation at CBU because he will be embarrassed.
“We seriously condemn the DC’s attacks on the lecturers and we politely advise him to concentrate on the issuance of NRCs and voter registration cards. The only person who can talk about the issues of CBU is the Minister of Higher Education Michael Kaingu and not Chanda Kabwe; by the way, who is Chanda Kabwe?
“Does he (Chanda Kabwe) know how far I have come to be where I am today for him to say he will fire me? On Sunday, he was praying and dancing here (at CBU) for reconciliation, but today he is saying something else. Does he know what it means?,” Mr Songolo said.
And CBUAU vice-president Alex Mwango said the union was not fighting for political interests of any political party, but academic excellence at the institution.
He said it was not the policy of the elite CBU Academics Union to use or work with students in their fight for better and academically focused CBU.
“There is nothing political about our fight. Ours is a fight for academic excellence. We condemn any form of violence from any quarter including students,” he said.
And the COBUSU president has appealed to Government to attend to the demands of lecturers seriously so that lectures resume at the institution.
He said President Edgar Lungu should intervene in the matter to ensure that things start moving smoothly at CBU because failure to do that the students would be much affected. He appealed to fellow students to remain calm as the Government try to find an amicable solution to the problem.
Meanwhile the striking lecturers have said the reluctance by Higher Education Minister Michael Kaingu to make a decision on the findings of the caretaker committee is perpetuating academic mediocrity at CBU with the ultimate victims being the students, the lecturers and the sponsors.
Mr Mwango said as a result of managerial mediocrity the CBU has become a highly indebted institution with bloated administrative structures leading to an unsustainable wage bill.
Mr Mwango said during a press briefing at CBU yesterday that the strike which started on Monday would continue until the minister makes a decision on the findings of the 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 bloated.