A STATEMENT ISSUED IN RESPONSE TO UNZA MANAGEMENT’S TRENDS TO SUPPRESS ACADEMIC FREEDOM
The University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers’ Union (UNZALARU) is deeply concerned by the press statement issued by the University of Zambia (UNZA) Management through its Acting Head of the Department of Communication and Marketing under the heading, ‘UNZA Disassociates itself from Dr. Sishuwa’s seditious article’ issued on 22 April 2021. We find the UNZA Management’s press statement deeply troubling for the following reasons:
First, the press statement in question reveals the growing and alarming trend of weakening the practice of academic freedom at the University of Zambia under the current crop of managers. This press statement is evident and makes sad reading for every well-meaning citizen. While we note that public universities are more susceptible to political pressure because they receive funds from the Government, UNZALARU believes that the biggest and most feared let down is in the approach taken by the Management team. The University of Zambia Management is wantonly disregarding and violating the principles of academic excellence, among which, is academic freedom. Academic freedom is one of the bedrocks of any functional and reputable university and its practice distinguishes it from other forms of education and training institutions.
Academic freedom entails freedom to teach and communicate ideas or facts and to state even controversial or unpopular opinions including those that may be viewed inconvenient to political elites without academic staff being threatened with repression or any other forms of intimidation as expressed in the press statement of the University Management. We wish to emphasis here that no member of the academic staff has ever been ‘disowned’ in the manner that Dr. Sishuwa has been treated by the University Management in the history of the University of Zambia. It is our desire that this will never happen again.
Secondly, UNZA’s press statement in question is misleading to the public because it contains inaccuracies. For example, Dr. Sishuwa is actively employed by the University of Zambia Council as a Lecturer and his leave does not make him inactive. In addition, at no time has Dr. Sishuwa, or any other member of the academic community at UNZA written articles or engaged the broadcast and print media in the name of or on behalf of the University of Zambia. Every academic staff of UNZA has the right to freely express their views or ideas amongst themselves or with members of the public without necessarily being associated with the University of Zambia or UNZA Management. We therefore find it unnecessary and unbefitting for the UNZA Management to want to be disassociated to a piece of work which they were not associated with in the first place. We similarly wish to disassociate ourselves from such levels of intolerance and lack of objectivity in the management style of our premier university.
Thirdly, we have struggled to understand the relationship between Dr. Sishuwa’s article to his status of employment with UNZA and how that should bother the University Management in the matters raised by the author. We are left to wonder whether the said press statement was a genuine reaction to the contents of the article or is a repeated repression of freedoms to shape and control the flow of information to society. There are many examples in Zambia where such flow of information and critique have positively impacted policy, enhanced good governance and improved the understanding of issues by society. This is why society, and Government itself, should have an interest in protecting academic freedom.
The Union, therefore, wishes to stand in solidarity with Dr. Sishuwa’s academic freedoms and all other members of the University of Zambia academic community. These are rights that we are ready to fight for and defend.
President General Secretary
Andrew Phiri, PhD Kelvin Mambwe, PhD
Proposing violence is academic freedom? Misplaced article.
That is the problem of UNZALARU in its current state. This article was not circulated to its members so that agreement could be reached on whether it should go out to the press and what should be the content of it. There was no consultation on this and has been issued by Kelvin Mambwe and his friends. Therefore, it is not sanctioned by the membership of UNZALARU.
Freedom of expression and incitement to violence are not one and the same thing. John Stuart Mill an English philosopher who defended freedom of expression in his book “On Liberty” was very clear on this. It is a pity that UNZALARU executive members cannot understand this very simple issue. Sishuwa told the whole world that Zambia would burn if the PF got back into power. By his own inflammatory statements, Sishuwa was inciting violence. So, what kind of freedom of expression is this?
Very sad to you cadre chief , even after we pleaded for you to be considered by ECL and Lungu , ask Prof. Luo ,
you need to stop this level of stupidity as a so called chief , you are a disappoitment to the once respected bemba
people , look at articles that you write which do nt even fit your current role .
Just stay put and shame up on you not fit to be so called paramount
The reaction is understandable – but why so late? The corrupt PF government has been leaning on all universities (and parastatals for that matter) to scrutinize any and all public liberal statements. We’re on our way to become a full blown police state! Complete with 100% corrupt government and president!
We stand with you. I do not see how Dr. Sishuwa’s article is seditious. It provokes one to think, as it should. UNZA disassociating themselves from an article they were not a party too. Where is academic freedom of the unzadons going to?
Fuseke iwe. We know who is funding that ka ugly boy sishuwa and you. Upnd wont be there for you when you are alone in a cell fighting cases. Don’t say I didn’t warn your f00lish self.
Ba UNZALARU, its been days since that cowardly, myopic communication from UNZA “dishonoring” Dr. Sishuwa came out, and this is when you’re coming out guns blazing supporting him?! I think you’re reacting now because you’ve just been embarrassed by the global academia community comprising several renowned scholars from around the world that earlier stated their full support for Dr. Sishuwa and denounced the substance-bankrupt seditious charges brought against him.
Well said UNZALARU. Academic Freedom as well as Freedom of Expression in general must be protected. We are surprised to see that without proof UNZA Management are claiming that the Article is Seditious when it’s not. UNZA Management is disassociating itself from Article it is not associated with.Dr Sishuwa penned that Article in his Name and expressed his own personal opinion and not that of UNZA. Ambassador Mwamba has been sued by Dr Sishuwa for Defamation of Character. He must defend himself in Court instead of trying to hide behind Seditious Conspiracy theories.
UNZALARU talking about academic freedom? My foot! These are guys who do not tolerate academic freedom in UNZALARU. Members who speak against the executive of the union are insulted and demeaned. As we speak, the younger members of UNZALARU who are in the majority have made sure older members of staff are not voted for so that the union is controlled by younger members who are mostly UPND. That is the state of UNZALARU today. The position they come up with on national issues is not a result of wide consultation with the membership because they do no tolerate opposed views. Anyone who dare speak out against them is labelled PF.
Way to go UNZALARU… UNZA once to be a respected institution that influenced public opinion and discourse from the KK regime to FTJ… both UNZASU and UNZALARU were a voice of reason.
That UNZA Management statement was embarrassing to say the least, and I’m glad you have come out to correct the situation. ????
Ambassador Mwamba should finish what he started. He made unfounded allegations against Dr Sishuwa. He has been sued by Dr Sishuwa for Defamation of character. Instead of defending himself in Court Ambassador Mwamba wants the Petitioner arrested based on fake Seditious Conspiracy theories. Ambassador Mwamba must see his day in Court . ZPS should ignore this incitement to arrest Dr Sishuwa on Politically motivated reasons.
The problem is that Dr. Sishuwa Sishuwa has abridged his impatiality the same way Processor Muna Ndulo and Dr. Neo Simitanyi seem to align themselves to a certain political grouping. It is no wonder that both these intellectuals signed on the UNZALARU in solidarity to protest “violence” charges on Sishuwa. Simutanyi always predicts UPND ‘will win elections’. Ndolo opposed and vilified the Concourt ‘for making UPND lose 2016 elections’.
The problem is that Dr. Sishuwa Sishuwa has abridged his impatiality the same way Processor Muna Ndulo and Dr. Neo Simitanyi seem to align themselves to a certain political grouping. It is no wonder that both these intellectuals signed on the UNZALARU in solidarity to protest “violence” charges on Sishuwa. Simutanyi always predicted UPND ‘will win elections’. Ndulo opposed and vilified the Concourt ‘for making UPND lose 2016 elections’.
Education without wisdom is useless and infact it is not only a danger to the owner but to the community at large. Some of us who have PhDs cannot support that article given the relative peace that our country has enjoyed over last few decades. The violence that we see around the world was insitigated by some of the so called elite in society. What we sometimes forget is the fact that some of our so called academic ellite are not divorced from the third world mentality. There is nothing freedom about insitigating violence. Rwanda has scars that will take a very long time to heal. Some of those that were involved in its genesis are not ordinary citizen but educated people. The unzaru should come out more strongly in finding solutions to the vaccine to stem the corona virus (Covid-19)…
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