Former Zambia National Students Union (ZANASU) vice-president Prince Ndoyi has called on the general public not to take Minister Of Higher Education Hon. Nkandu Luo’s proposal to abolish students unions from high learning institutions in the country seriously.
Mr Ndoyi the former Mulungushi University Students Union president who was featuring on “Talk at 6,” a live radio program on Millennium Radio which was discussing the proposal by the Minister Of Higher Education Nkandu Luo said it was wrong for the minister to propose the abolishment of unions at high learning institutions as they are a structured way of presenting and dealing with challenges faced by students at respective institutions.
He wondered how the minister intends to deal with challenges faced by students at respective institutions if unions are abolished further describing the proposed leadership by the minister as ‘mediaeval type of leadership’ not fit for students.
“it is a wrong move and it must not be given undue attention or audience as it is nothing but a retrogressive idea or proposal from our mother. Our mother seems not to know what she is proposing, is she telling the nation that she will start directly talking to every student at all high learning institution countrywide even in far flung places. Even so the type of leadership she is proposing is nothing but a medieval type of leadership which can not at any point represent the students adequately. Students unions are a form of democracy,” he
He reminded the Minister that when President Lungu appointed her as Minister he didn’t exclude students unions from her duties but he expected her to superintend over all affairs to do with higher learning including students unions.
He noted that it was proposals like that one which is making the President seem undemocratic when in fact the President had nothing to do with such proposals.
“President Lungu didn’t ask her to chose what to deal with or what not to deal with, it is to manage high learning in its entirety. The Minister perhaps is trying to tell us something, because just a few weeks if not months she suspended union activities at the University of Zambia and now she is proposing another way of silencing students’ voices.
“I want to appeal to the Minister to avoid making decisions like this one without consultation, it’s statements like this one that begin to paint or portray our President as though he is not a democratic leader, while President Lungu has nothing totally to do with some of these proposals. Students unions are the most manageable form of structure for which students issues can be addressed, anything else is vague or not practica,” he said.
He further said the solution to student unrests was not to gauge students but simply provide a platform for constant dialogue at levels of decision making in respective institutions.
“Let our mother use her board rooms not only for management meetings but also for an active engagement of student leaders. She mustn’t insulate herself from students leaders otherwise management’s have a tendency to paint a picture perfect situation so as to protect their jobs,” he said.
He urged law makers not to entertain her proposal.
“Lastly I want to call upon parliamentarians not to even think of enacting such a thing, let them use their limited time in parliament to concentrate on enacting good laws unlike backtracking the progress parliaments before them have made in broadening the democratic space for students at high learning institution,” he said.
In the recent past there has been concerns from both the church and civil society that Zambia is sliding into a dictatorship. Many have speculated that President Edgar Lungu has been at the center of silencing dissenting voices.
This call by the Minister becomes the latest acts of weakening a strong student activism, acts perceived by many callers on the program as ways of silencing dissenting voices of the students.