NANCY SIAME, HONE SIAME, Kitwe
COPPERBELT University (CBU) lecturers have agreed to resume work, ending a two-month boycott that led to the closure of the institution on July 8.
This follows a two-day meeting with Minister of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education Michael Kaingu and his Labour and Social Security counterpart, Fackson Shamenda.
The lecturers agreed to resume work with immediate effect unconditionally.
CBU Academics Union president Mwiya Songolo said the union has looked at the interests of the students and the need to re-open the institution soon.
Speaking at a joint press briefing in Kitwe yesterday, Mr Shamenda, who spoke on behalf of both ministers, said lecturers agreed to resume work.
Mr Shamenda said the union would, thereafter, engage the Ministry of Education on the issues pertinent to the smooth running of CBU.
â€œThe academic staff of the CBU, through the leadership provided by the union, have today [yesterday] agreed to go back for work unconditionally,â€ he said.
He said following the development, Dr Kaingu would today announce the date for the re-opening of the institution, which was closed indefinitely last month.
Mr Shamenda thanked the union, students, the public and other stakeholders for the patience exhibited during the closure of the institution.
Speaking at the same briefing, Mr Songolo said the union decided to give dialogue another chance after meeting with the two ministers.
He said the lecturers would start teaching with immediate effect as Government looks into the issues raised.
â€œItâ€™s our hope that Government will give consideration to the issues raised and act in the interest of CBU,â€ Mr Songolo said.
Also in attendance at the briefing were CBU management, Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) officials, permanent secretaries from both ministries, Labour Commissioner Cecilia Kamanga, acting Copperbelt permanent secretary Elias Kamanga and Kitwe district commissioner Chanda Kabwe, among other senior government officials.
Copperbelt University Academic Union general secretary Kawunga Nyirenda also said in an interview in Kitwe yesterday that they have resolved to call off their strike in the interest of students and the nation.
Dr Nyirenda said the decision to return to work has been necessitated by the fruitful meetings lecturers and academic staff had with Dr Kaingu and Mr Shamenda.
He assured the students of their usual commitment towards making CBU the centre of academic excellence.
â€œOur message to students is that weâ€™re ready to start teaching them and it is our hope that the environment in which they learn shall improve so that CBU can be a centre of academic excellence,â€ Dr Nyirenda said.
And Copperbelt University Students Union (COBUSU) vice-president Miselo Mumba welcomed the decision taken by all parties to re-open the university.
Mr Miselo said it is studentsâ€™ desire not to see their academic calendar disturbed throughout the year.
â€œAs a union, weâ€™re glad that our calls have been heard. We thank the lecturers and all the parties for resolving to re-open the university and we donâ€™t want to experience similar challenges throughout the year,â€ Mr Mumba said.
On Wednesday, the two ministers had a meeting with the union which lasted over 10 hours – from 15:00 hours untill after midnight – without reaching a consensus.
The meeting continued yesterday from 14:30 hours to about 17:00, hours when the press briefing was held.
The union has been on strike, demanding the removal of CBU vice-chancellor Naison Ngoma, who has since gone on leave.
Meanwhile, University of Zambia management has dispelled speculation that it is in support of the decision made by the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) to withhold studentsâ€™ results until a road-map on how to dismantle debt owed to the lecturers is agreed.
Acting vice-chancellor Enala Mwase said she is not part of the lecturersâ€™ decision.
Professor Mwase said her interest is to see that all issues are resolved amicably.
Professor Mwase said this through University of Zambia public relations and international liaison manager Damaseke Chibale.
On Wednesday, UNZALARU president Euston Chiputa said lecturers at the institution had resolved to withhold studentsâ€™ results until a roadmap to clear the K320 million owed to them is agreed upon.
NANCY SIAME, HONE SIAME, Kitwe