GOVERNMENT has given the Copperbelt University (CBU) academic union up to Friday this week to call off their strike and resume work or risk losing their jobs without benefits.
And Government says it will revoke bursaries and scholarships for truant universities students because they were being abused.
Meanwhile, CBU vice chancellor Naison Ngoma has been reinstated after serving more than two months on suspension pending investigations into his alleged mismanagement of the institution.
Higher Education Minister Michael Kaingu said the current go-slow by the CBU academic union was illegal and tantamount to dismissal.
Dr Kaingu said in a ministerial statement to appraise Parliament on the current on-goings at the country’s second highest institution of learning.
““All members of the academic staff, who had decided to withdraw their services, are requested to end this illegal action and return to work without delay. If they do not report for work by Friday, they would have clocked 10 days and would have dismissed themselves. Government will not pay them any benefits. Withdraw of labour as a weapon to fight for demands hurts all, but helps none and students, in particular, should not be used as pawns to enforce demands,” he said.
Dr Kaingu said the CBU caretaker committee which he appointed to perform the functions of the university council and investigate allegations of mismanagement against Professor Ngoma, found the vice chancellor faultless.
The investigations were instituted after the CBU academic union wrote to Dr Kaingu alleging that Professor Ngoma and the entire management should be dismissed.
“The report of the caretaker committee has found neither evidence nor merit in the allegations made by the CBU academic union. In view of these findings, I wish to inform this August House that we have decided that Professor Ngoma reports to duty with immediate effect and the current management of CBU remains unchanged,” he said. And Parliament heard yesterday that a prominent opposition political party has been sponsoring strikes and riots at University of Zambia (UNZA) and the Copperbelt University (CBU).
This was after Patriotic Front Kwacha Member of Parliament Bonnie Mutale asked Dr Kaingu whether the impasse at CBU was politically motivated.
In his response, Dr Kaingu said it was true that some politicians had been using the university as a hunting ground.
Dr Kaingu told Parliament that he also had evidence of two prominent politicians who had gone to Mulungushi University where the duo distributed t-shirts to students for the political parties.
“Evidence before the ministry shows that there are prominent political parties using our universities as a hunting ground,” Dr Kaingu said. He accused lecturers at CBU of arm-twisting and intimidating Government in order to succumb to their pressure.
Dr Kaingu warned politicians to desist from using university lecturers adding that government would not run universities on directives from either students or lecturers’ unions.
And Dr Kaingu told parliament that in consultation with the Chancellor of the Copperbelt University, and the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee, government has decided that the Vice Chancellor of CBU, Professor Naison Ngoma, who had been on leave during the crisis, report for duty with immediate effect.
Dr Kaingu said a report by Caretaker Committee revealed that there were no sufficient grounds to warrant the termination of the services of the council.
He said the report had found neither evidence nor merit in the allegations made by the Copperbelt University Academic Union.
“This means that the demand made by the Copperbelt Academics Unions for the removal of the vice Chancellor and the entire management, was premised on allegations which have not been supported by evidence,” Dr Kaingu said.