IT IS agonizing to imagine that the University of Zambia and Copperbelt University students who are every day rioting and damaging public and private property are sponsored by the taxpayer.
They behave this way because they have nothing to lose and feel no pain. They jeopardize their studies which are paid for by the Government at great cost because the money in a way does not come from their parents’ pockets. That is why even their parents are least concerned by the anarchy at our campuses.
Ninety-nine percent of these rioters are on full or partial Government bursary. They know they will be back and won’t even pay for the damage they cause.
It is unbelievable that 51 years after Independence we cannot manage our own institutions. Worse we cannot feel sorry for our country. The students know too well that Zambia is hurting; the economy is doing very badly. The Government has no money. It is crunch time. Several thousand miners have been laid off because the world cannot buy our copper.
These varsity students and lecturers are our elite, the special breed that should know better. They read, analyse and learn these economic challenges everyday of their lives. But they decide to torch their country over trivial issues. In Zambia we enjoy self-mutilation.
Compare our case to that of South Africa. The students there are up in arms because university fees are increasing each year and feel they cannot afford university education any more. Students there are worried about fees – and not the diet – because it is they, through their parents, who pay.
In Zambia, student rioting and university closures have become a national pastime. The two public universities were closed indefinitely by Government yesterday and the students sent home, saying their behaviour was a threat to national security.
Just what is wrong with our universities? If it is not students rioting it is the lecturers downing their chalks and walking out of lecture rooms. In the meantime Government is paralysed, not certain what to do or afraid to take action.
The present crisis started several months ago when lecturers at both UNZA and CBU accused the university administrations of failure to pay them their promised salary arrears. After the UNZA dispute appeared to have been solved, CBU lecturers’ union demanded the removal of their Vice Chancellor, accusing him of professional incompetence. They vowed never to return to class until he was fired.
As the Ministry of Higher Education and the entire Government flip-flopped over the issue, not knowing who was right and what to do, the students angrily poured into the streets of Kitwe and all hell broke loose.
The truth which no-one will not admit is that our universities and colleges are heavily infiltrated by agent-provocateurs employed to cause trouble and hinder learning. Some of these so-called students have been living at these institutions for up to nine years when students should graduate after four years.
What are they doing there and who can say the university administrations do not know? How come they are the wealthiest students with a cult-like following! They drive flash cars and can afford to sponsor any drinking spree at campus. Who pays them?
These are the trouble-makers. They invent issues and have money to pay students to riot. Who does not know about Monk Square? Every riot is engineered from there and it is organized openly.
Until someone has the guts to stop the rot at our universities, Zambians are in for a long, hot summer this election year.