The Secretariat of Southern African Students Union (SASU) has been in Zambia over the last 3 days to assess and deliberate on the state of readiness for Zambia to host the 2019 Students Regional Summit. The team comprised of SASU members from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. We were glad to have been hosted by the Zambia National Students Union (ZANASU) and were greeted by the usual hospitality the Zambian people continues to show the entire Southern Region.
The SASU delegation held closed door meetings with ZANASU and representatives of its member institutions from around the country. The meeting with the ZANASU leadership reflected on a number of issues that continue to confront our students in our region on a day-to-day basis, such as lack of access to quality higher education, lack of student support, and declining wellbeing of students on our various campuses.
This meeting in Zambia was also held at a difficulty time when the region has been hugely affected by tragedy of tropical cyclone, which has claimed thousands of life, and left many of our people displaced in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. As students in the regional, we commend both our African countries and the global communities for the rescue efforts they continue to provide support for the affected counties.
As SASU, we send our heartfelt condolence to families and nations of those who have passed on, we also call upon our unions and their individual Student Representatives Councils to come up with united efforts to offer support for the displaced families by organizing a number if activities, been candle lights, and hosting memorial services, and making donations of cloths and none perishable food stuff, that will be send to these countries.
We also sadly note the crackdown that had happened in Zimbabwe a few months ago in which some of our members were arrested, tortured and some people killed during the demonstrations. SASU recognizes the key role that Zambia and other member countries continue to play to offer solidarity and support to citizens and students from different countries who found themselves in these circumstances. We however would like to make an earnest appeal to His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia and Chairperson of the SADC organ on Politics, Defence and Security to always intervene, ensure peace and regional security prevails but also stand with students whose rights get violated each and every day.
The 2019 SASU regional Summit which will be hosted by ZANASU, will be held on from the 19th to 24th October 2019 in Lusaka, Zambia, under the following theme “AGENDA 2063: immediate solutions to student challenges in southern Africa.” The Summit will be taking place at the time when Zambia will be celebrating its 55th Independence. Our students will be joining the peace-loving people of Zambia in these celebrations and also honour the sacrifice that Zambian students and the people generally made to liberate the region.
The Summit, which will be attended by more than 250 delegates from all the SADC countries, representing various national students unions and SRC’s, as well as representatives from our global partners, been SAIH, NED, OSISA, government representatives, as well as key option maker and policy experts in various fields will look into the following themes amongst others: –
- Investment in education and funding for higher education,
- Human rights and academic freedoms,
- Revisiting state of our curriculum and the impact of 4th Industrial Revolution,
- Student voices in democratic process,
- Student solidarity,
- SADC protocol on education and training,
- Sexual reproductive health,
- Mental health and climate change.
These issues which will be discussed at the Summit are very important and can no longer be ignored by students around the region. The issues of human rights and academic freedoms affect all students much as they affect our society. Our students in the region cannot also remain passive in the changing democratic and governance process taking place. Students in the region had played key roles in liberation struggles of their countries and we need to rejuvenate the liberation spirit to taking part in governance process.
For example, here in Zambia, we are aware of the efforts being made to amend the constitution and various others laws. SASU would like to see our students play key roles in supporting these processes having that voice which is needed.
Finally, as SASU has found and declared Zambia to be ready to host this Summit, we call upon the people of Zambia to continue cherishing and protecting the peace the country has enjoyed for a century since its independence and always remain warm to the SADC region. We have faith that the Zambian Government will seize this opportunity and continue to improve its working relations with the student fraternity and treat students as partners in resolving problems affect them rather than view them as adversaries.
We thank both ZANASU and the Zambian Open University for hosting the SASU delegation and we hope to work together to ensure the 2019 Summit become a real success.
God Bless Zambia! And God Bless Our Countries in the Region!
Issued by SASU Secretariat:
Chairperson – South Africa
Acting Secretary General- Eswatini