Sunday, July 14, 2024

UNZA’s Three Unions Express Disappointment Over Government’s Interference in Recruitment Process of Top Management

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The three trade unions at the University of Zambia, namely the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers’ Union (UNZALARU), the University of Zambia Professional Staff Union (UNZAPROSU), and the University of Zambia Allied Workers’ Union (UNZAAWU), recently released a press statement addressing the media and the general public about the mismanagement of the recruitment processes of the University of Zambia principal officers.

The University of Zambia has been running on an ad-hoc basis with a Caretaker Committee micromanaging the affairs of the highest learning institution in the land against the best practices of corporate governance, since the institution had no Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellors for over a year now since the departure of the former Vice Chancellor Prof Luke Mumba, and his deputy Dr. Tamara Kambikambi. Similarly, the University of Zambia has had no substantive Council in place for over nine (9) years now.

The three trade unions at the University of Zambia are concerned about the government’s interference in the running of public institutions, especially with the process of recruiting the top officials of the University of Zambia, using the same methods denounced under the former regime. The Caretaker Committee of the University of Zambia Council, in consultation with the Minister of Education, Mr. Douglas Siakalima, constituted a seven-member ad-hoc Search Committee to select the Vice Chancellor and the two deputies, pursuant to the Higher Education Act of 2013 Section 16 subsection 1.

The Search Committee whose membership was composed of men and women of integrity, competence, and requisite experience, began its work in February 2023 by advertising the existing vacancies. This was followed by the shortlisting of candidates who met the established criteria. However, when the Caretaker Committee of the UNZA Council established that their preferred candidates did not meet the criteria for selection, and consequently not shortlisted, the interviews were abruptly halted, and the Search Committee was requested to produce an interim report which would show who had been shortlisted and possibly include their preferred candidates. This act was tantamount to interference in the work of the Search Committee as their terms of reference did not provide for an interim report in the middle of the recruitment process.

The government has now instructed the Caretaker Committee to reconstitute the Search Committee with ‘user-friendly’ members who will be used to manipulate the process of recruitment. This is despite the University of Zambia having spent financial resources on the process.

The recruitment process of the top UNZA officials under the new dawn Government lacks credibility, accountability, and transparency. The process is an embarrassment to the Hichilema administration which has always preached transparency and accountability in the operations of public institutions. The actions of the Government through the Caretaker Committee are not only shocking but an appalling repeat of what the trade unions have always abhorred as trade unions at UNZA.

Therefore, the trade unions demand the immediate appointment of a substantive Council of the University of Zambia, which should oversee the recruitment of both the Vice Chancellor and the two deputies. They also demand a credible and transparent recruitment process, which should prioritize merit (qualifications, experience, and competence) over and above a candidate’s ethnic identity, regional background, and ties to those in power.

The three trade unions at the University of Zambia have expressed their serious concerns regarding how the higher education sector continues to be mismanaged. It is time for the government to take the concerns of the trade unions seriously and ensure that the recruitment processes of the University of Zambia and other public institutions are transparent and based on merit. The government should also ensure that a substantive Council of the University of Zambia is put in place to provide oversight on the operations of the university. This is critical in restoring credibility in the governance of public institutions.

The trade unions believe that this act was tantamount to interference in the work of the Search Committee as their terms of reference did not provide for an interim report in the middle of the recruitment process. They also claim that the Government through the Ministry of Education and their Caretaker Committee wanted to use the Search Committee to rubberstamp the selection of individuals who are believed to be politically connected as top officials of the University Management.

The trade unions have demanded an immediate appointment of a substantive Council of the University of Zambia, which should oversee the recruitment of both the Vice Chancellor and the two deputies. They also demand a credible and transparent recruitment process that should prioritize merit (qualifications, experience, and competence) over and above a candidate’s ethnic identity, regional background, and ties to those in power.

In conclusion, the trade unions find the recruitment process of the top UNZA officials under the new dawn Government lacking credibility, accountability, and transparency. The actions of the Government through the Caretaker Committee are not only shocking but an appalling repeat of what the trade unions have always abhorred as trade unions at UNZA.

6 COMMENTS

  1. How naive can you be. People go into government to enjoy and recruiting friends and relatives is one of those enjoyments.

  2. UPND thinks UNZA is DeadNBC. Who will pump democracy into the heads of the people that go into our so-called government?

  3. That’s your New Doom. Mind-boggling how they want to spread their tenterhooks everywhere. Kuma flowery speeches bapena, kantu action!

  4. kambwili told you I D I O T S and now U are seeing what he was talking about..mulenya mule lapila

  5. This interference in the recruitment process by the UPND is everywhere in public institutions. Last year ZRA advertised for jobs. To-date no aptitude tests or interviews have been held. Instead, UPND interfered in the recruitment process at ZRA by picking only 30 of their own people they imposed on ZRA. These were sent for training and have since be deployed to different stations. Complaints coming from ZRA about some of these new employees is that, despite the training they received, they are just not good enough for ZRA.

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