The Zambia National Students Union (ZANASU) has appealed to the leadership of President Edgar Lungu to help resolve this issue by opening doors to his office and his administration for students to directly engage him on this matter.
ZANASU Information and Publicity Secretary Assa Williey stated one of the consequences of Government decision to remove meal allowances is the possibility that female students from poor families will sent into prostitution in order to find money to sustain themselves while studying in public universities.
“President Lungu as a known champion of female empowerment would not want to see this situation which will contribute to raise in contraction of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS which puts pressure on the treasury in mobilising resources to procure anti-retroviral drugs,” said Ms. Williey.
Ms. Williey said President Lungu cannot continue to let Higher Education Minister Professor Nkandu Luo to continue experimenting with provision of higher education by her policies that are putting this administration at odds with the very people he promised to serve when he assumed the Presidency.
“We ask for sobriety and reasonableness from our elected representative. Professor Nkandu Luo has failed our youthful Zambians. She has put her personal fights against students ahead of the national bigger picture and that of the PF administration which was elected on the basis of the pro-poor agenda. Minister Luo’s style of leadership has proven to be one where she wants to show she has unfettered power to make any decision believing no student as a client must have a say, as long as such decisions fulfill her ego,” she said.
The students umbrella body has reminded President Lungu that he has an opportunity to interact with leaders who were in the former ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) who should bring to the table vital lessons of times when some Ministers decided not to tell the truth to the Head of State on the situation on the ground and advised him to be wary of ministers who never help Presidents to govern best by listening to the correct views and cries of the people because such Ministers has nothing to lose having been in these offices for too long.
“We are very sure the Head of State has been following this discourse on removal of living allowances but we ask him to break his silence over the matter that will hinge on his shoulders and has potential to distance this administration from both students and their poor families for years to come,” said Ms. Williey.
Mr. Williey has also advised members of parliament to learn something from the Brexit debates in the UK House of Commons where they are able to remove their partisan jackets and put the interest of their constituents ahead of their own by holding the Executive arm in checks and balances and stated that the issue of a living allowance for students from poor families who study in institutions of higher learning must be neither be a PF or opposition issue but an issue that goes to the core of whom these Members of Parliament represent in Parliament.