UNZALARU will not miss Prof. Luo – Dr Mambwe

By Staff Reporter

The University of Zambia Lecturers’ Allied Workers Union (UNZALARU) says the removal of Professor Nkandu Luo as Higher education minister is long overdue.

UNZALARU general secretary Dr Kelvin Mambwe said the decision by President Edgar Lungu to move Prof. Luo should have been taken earlier as the damage inflicted on the country’s higher education sector over the last two years would take a long time to repair.

The union has since cautioned Dr Brian Mushimba who has taken over from Prof  Luo against what they’re calling “toxic tendencies”.

Mambwe stated that Prof Luo outdid her colleagues in the government in taking matters into her own hands to destroy higher education.

He alleged that Prof Luo was unaccepting of criticism among other shortcomings, with little capacity to recognise or overcome them.

“It is ironic that someone of her level of education is so hostile to knowledge and intellectualism. Luo was simply horrible at the Ministry of Higher Education. Her pedestrian educational reforms and ill-advised plans to amputate the University of Zambia into several small colleges, her proposed harmful amendments to the Higher Education Act, her decision to abolish meal allowances for students in public universities, and her silence in the face of renewed police brutality against students which resulted in the death of Vespers Shimunzhila, a female student at the University of Zambia, serve as haunting reminders of her unfortunate stint at the ministry,” Dr Mambwe stated.  “Her illegal indefinite closure of the Copperbelt University, her unlawful suspensions of student union activities at both UNZA and CBU, and her needless but repeated clashes with the very people she was employed to serve – lecturers and researchers, university administrators, students and other stakeholders – means that Luo’s removal can only be good for the future of Zambia’s higher education sector and calls for celebration. We wish Luo well in her future endeavours and will certainly not miss her at all.”

He stated that Prof Luo was “horrible” and alleged that her silence on police brutality against students resulted in the death of Vespers.

The union has, however, wished Prof Luo well in her future endeavours but clearly stated that “we will certainly not miss her at all”.

UNZALARU further warned Dr Mushimba against adopting the “quarrelsome attitude, toxic tendencies and other self-perpetuating petulancies of his predecessor”.

 Dr Mambwe stated that the union would work with the minister to rid the higher education sector of the ghost of Prof Luo’s destructive legacy and find a lasting solution to the numerous challenges that affect public institutions of higher learning in Zambia.

“These include the regrettable frequent closures of public universities, the inadequate financial support from the government to these institutions, the crumbling and insufficient infrastructure within them, the acute shortage of visionary, selfless and independent university administrators, the lack of government support for meaningful academic research and innovation, and the delayed payment of salaries, outstanding gratuities and terminal benefits to deserving recipients,” stated Dr Mambwe. “We urge the new minister to embrace dialogue, develop the capacity to listen, and build constructive relationships with other key stakeholders involved in the running of higher education institutions, as he seeks to address these surmountable challenges. We are keen to meet Hon. Mushimba at his earliest convenience after he has settled in his new portfolio and share ideas on the way forward, including on how progress can be made in dismantling the debt that the government owes the university.”