Higher Education Minister Michael Kaingu has revealed that he is ready to reinstate meal allowances for CBU and UNZA students if managements at the two institutions meet the conditions set the reopening of the universities.
Dr Kaingu said the withdrawal of student’s meal allowances was conditional stating that he would reinstate the facility if the conditions for reopening the universities.
He said he met Interim Councils of the two universities who pledged to adhere to the five conditions he spelled out during his ministerial address to Parliament.
Dr Kaingu was speaking when he featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview programme last evening.
“If you wish to know, I met the Interim Councils of the two universities in Lusaka and they agreed that they will meet the five conditions we set out for reopening the universities and if that happens, then I will give them back the meal allowances,” Dr Kaingu said.
He reiterated that part of the conditions for reopening the universities include the identification and subsequent expulsion of ring leaders of recent riotous behaviour at the two institutions.
“University managements should also ensure security measures are tightened at the institutions in order to protect the infrastructure, we have asked them to erect a fence and install flood lights and CCTV at these institutions. The problem with UNZA for instance is that it is too porous, I have never seen a university with such a porous boundary. UNZA is too porous, there is no university which is too porous, you can’t protect the property of the university without fencing the parameters,” he said.
“Furthermore, all students should be surcharged in order to pay for the maintenance and repair of damaged infrastructure. We also want all students to sign commitment forms that they will not participate in riotous behaviour as they walk into university grounds.”
He said the conditions are meant to deter a repeat of the riotous conduct exhibited by students last month which led to the closure of the two higher learning institutions.
He warned that failure to instil discipline at UNZA and CBU will make the two institutions ungovernable.
Dr Kaingu also refuted assertions that Government rushed to closing the universities due to a lack of funds to run the institutions.
“It’s not that Government doesn’t have money, Government will always meet its commitments, it may delay but it will pay. It is not true that Government triggered this situation and if you wish to know, the bursary forms which these students sign say that Government will pay only when the funds are available, the pledge from Government is that it will help those who are vulnerable but the beneficiaries must be rational and students must be able to understand the government fiscal policy and if the money does not come through taxes, then government will not pay,” he said.
He added, “Even my salary delays sometimes, in real life, there are people who wait for three months to get their one-month salary. The root cause is the student’s riotous behaviour and not Government’s delays in paying them. Students must learn to wait.”