EVELYN Hone College of Applied Arts and Commerce (EHC) in Lusaka has been shut following the extended class boycott and worsening student unrest that undermined law and order at the campus.
The closure is indefinite but students sitting for final examinations will be allowed to return to campus on December 2, 2007.
Minister of Science, Technology and Vocational Training, Peter Daka, announced the closure of the institution at a press briefing at his office in Lusaka yesterday.
The minister was acting on resolution of the EHC board of directors, who resolved to shut the college at an emergency meeting on Monday evening.
â€œFrom 6th November 2007, there have been some disturbances at Evelyn Hone College where students have boycotted classes because of problems with water reticulation,â€ Mr Daka said.
He said the ministry had instituted measures to restore water supply and to solve the problems of sanitation in hostels.
â€œDespite these measures, students have continued to boycott classes and to behave in a manner threatening the college and its surroundings.
In view of this situation, I have decided to close the college with immediate effect,â€ Mr Daka said.
Mr Daka said the decision to close the institution was arrived at after efforts to reason with students failed.
He said Government could not entertain the studentâ€™s unruly behaviour because it had an obligation to protect life and property and to maintain law and order.
He said apart from safeguarding life and property, the closure of the college would also facilitate the rehabilitation of hostels, improvement of water supply and sanitation.
And Mr Daka said management at the college should have dealt with the water problem as an urgent matter.
He said the water problem should not have gone as far as it did because this was an indication that â€œsomeone was not doing their job properly.â€
â€œManagement was supposed to have handled the grievances of the students before the situation got out of hand.
When you ask people to work, they fail to do so.
This issue should not have gone this far,â€ he said.
On the studentsâ€™ demands to have EHC director of academic affairs, Ellan Kamfwa removed, Mr Daka said it was not possible to fire a person based on hearsay, without any investigations and without giving him an opportunity to exculpate himself.
A Zambia Daily Mail team that rushed to the college around 06:00 hours yesterday found students packing their belongings in readiness for evacuation.
Management hired buses to ferry students to provincial centres.
Heavy traffic formed outside the college as some parents and students drove in and out to collect studentsâ€™ belongings.
College principal, Sam Kangwa, said management had arranged for transport for all students from outside Lusaka to take them to provincial centres through out the country.
Most of the students did not have time to pack as they were awoken in the early hours of the morning by armed police who ordered them to pack and wait for buses at a central place.
Outgoing students union president president, Kelezo Lushako, said no one was hurt when police hounded them out of their rooms but that most of them were terrified by the heavily armed police.
He said students cooperated with police who also maintained their calm.
On Monday, the students held Ministry of Science, Technology and Vocational Training permanent secretary, Dr Buleti Nsemukila, hostage for one hour and Mr Kangwa for seven hours.
Meanwhile, Mr Daka has been directed to issue a statement in Parliament to explain the developments at EHC.
This came to light when a point of order was raised by Lusaka Central member of Parliament, Guy Scott (PF) who wanted to know whether Government was in order to ignore, three months ago, a Lusaka City Councilâ€™s report which described the water and sanitation situation at the college as a disaster.
Speaker Amusaa Mwanamwambwa ruled that the minister gives a statement.