A named opposition political party leader and his vice president have embarked on a “very serious campaign” of recruiting students in higher learning institutions and that they will stop at nothing until their mission is accomplished, Parliament heard yesterday.
And Government has disputed owing university student’s allowances at the time they rioted against the alleged delayed payment.
Higher Education Minister Michael Kaingu, who made the charge in Parliament yesterday, said there was no humility amongst the university students.
Dr Kaingu said the students were immature and could not be taught.
“I don’t know maybe their brains have not grown proportionately with their own bodies,” he said.
Dr Kaingu said a named political party leader together with his disciples had gone out of their way by hunting for support in the universities.
He said he could tell while looking on the left side of the Speaker that some members of Parliament were already feeling guilty at his revelations.
Earlier in is ministerial statement, Dr Kaingu said at the time the “painful decision” was made to close the University of Zambia (UNZA) and Copperbelt University (CBU), Government did not owe the students any allowances.
“It is important to note that so far all allowances due to the students have been paid. The only allowance that was delayed was the meal allowance,” he said.
Dr Kaingu observed that there had been misinformation that the decision to close the two universities stemmed from failure by Government to pay some allowances to beneficiary students at UNZA and CBU. Dr Kaingu said such information was false.
“It is extremely saddening that students who are supposed to be vulnerable and are receiving this Government support as a privilege are the ones that have chosen to be unruly,” he said.
Dr Kaingu said the beneficiaries of bursary support at CBU and UNZA ought to realize that their colleagues in other public universities were not enjoying the same privilege which they had chosen to abuse. He said it was wrong to misuse the opportunity of learning and receiving bursaries when many other Zambians desired for such opportunities.
Dr Kaingu explained that a lot of effort was made to dialogue with the students to return to class but proved futile.
“For instance, UNZA management addressed the students on Friday, 29 January 2016, to assure them that Government was doing something about their grievances but they resorted to damaging property including stoning vehicles on Great East Road; the permanent secretary at Ministry of Higher Education intervened on the same day, but to no avail.
“In the case of CBU, I personally visited the university and offered to dialogue with the students but they refused,” he said.
Dr Kaingu said Government did not take pleasure in closing institutions of higher learning but would always act to control the situation when students chose to indulge in violent protests and destroy public property instead of concentrating on studies.
Dr Kaingu clarified that CBU students were paid book and term one meal allowances on June 10, 2015 (at the beginning of term one). He added that CBU term two allowances were paid on November 9, 2015 while project allowances and accommodation refunds were paid on January 18, 2016.
Dr Kaingu said part of the term 3 meal allowances were paid on February 2, 2016.
“The allowance paid was K1,317 per student. This is meal allowance for 59 days out of the 97 days for term 3,” he said.
Dr Kaingu said UNZA students were paid book and term one meal allowances on November 18, 2015, while part of the term 2 meal allowances were paid on February 2, 2016.
He said the allowance paid was K1,192 per student as meal allowance for 53 days out of the 90 days for term 2.