Editor's Comment

UNZA: Use relief wisely

SO, THOSE who retired from the University of Zambia (UNZA) Great East Road campus between 2011 and 2017 can now sigh with relief following the release of K200 million to settle their pension benefits.
This is probably the biggest disbursement ever given to UNZA to clear arrears for retirees.
This will cater for 151 retirees, most of whom were probably giving up hope of receiving their pension benefits any time soon given UNZA’s financial problems.
Government has been releasing money to clear retirees monthly but the progress has been slow, and had the process continued, it was going to take a long time to clear the backlog of retirees.
The K200 million, coming as a loan from the treasury, will certainly elate the retirees, who should now be actualising plans on how to use the money they had worked for.
It also serves UNZA the encumbrance of running two payrolls, one for active employees and another for those who retired.
This means UNZA will now save the money which it would have used to continue keeping the retirees on its payroll and begin to channel the savings towards servicing the loan and resolve other pressing and outstanding financial obligations.
Now that Government has lifted the burden of paying retirees, UNZA management should look at retaining a workforce which it can afford to pay.
There is no need for the institution to keep a huge workforce which will be a drain on its meagre resources.
It is therefore incumbent on UNZA, just like the other public universities, to maintain a lean but efficient workforce.
History has taught UNZA that grants cannot sort out all their financial obligations, hence the need to prioritise areas where resources can be applied with the rest coming from its internally generated resources.
This calls for even more initiatives by UNZA management on how to generate revenue for meeting other costs. Appreciatively, this has already started, but there certainly is need for more to be done.
By the way, UNZA is funded from the taxpayers’ money and its staff should mind the way they conduct themselves in public or how they speak.
For instance, the nation is disappointed with remarks attributed to UNZA Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) general secretary Kelvin Mambwe, who insulted those that support a particular party.
Dr Mambwe’s statement was so shocking because it was a good example of one not knowing his boundaries or indeed modus operandi.
It was also disappointing that it came from a person who is learned and therefore expected to show civility in expressing an opinion, no matter how strong it is.
Ability to manage emotions is a sign of maturity and one who does that is likely to be listened to and be able to keep the agenda on the table.
UNZA has indeed experienced delayed salaries but surely there are better ways in which to express one’s disappointment. These better ways do not include verbal assaults.
The union leader was certainly out of order for using unacceptable language.

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