President Peter Mutharika, Chancellor of University of Malawi (Unima) and now Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar), has laid blame on public university councils and management for the problems facing the universities. Chief among problems rocking the universities is the closure of colleges such as the Polytechnic and the uncertainty surrounding the Unima’s fees hike.
There is uncertainty surrounding the opening of the Polytechnic, a Unima constituent college. As it is, the calendar has greatly been compromised.
While all this is happening, there is a deafening silence from the Chancellor of the University. However, Mutharika instead of solving, or at least providing direction, has decided to lay blame on councils and management teams of the universities. While I may not entirely be in the know of what goes on in the council, I find it rather disturbing that the Chancellor says the university councils should stop running to him whenever there are problems.
Now, Mutharika as you might be aware, is no stranger to absconding his duties when he is needed the most. Last time there was a standoff between government and Unima lecturers, Mutharika, who then was Education minister, simply sneaked out of the country, wishing the problems away.
To me, it does not come as a surprise that this time around, Mutharika has chosen to do nothing again; perhaps, hoping and praying that the problems will vanish on their own.
As Chancellor, Mutharika cannot claim nor push the problems rocking the universities entirely on university councils and management teams, by virtue of being the Chancellor of these universities, I believe he is part of the team. Perhaps the Chancellor needs to be reminded that he intervened in the fees hike and ordered a K50 000 reduction across the board on the new fees proposed by Unima.
With due respect, Mr President, as Chancellor, you cannot pick and choose which problems to get involved in and solve. By asking the council to stop looking up to you whenever there is a crisis Mr. Chancellor, you are admitting that you have failed to do your job. I do not think the councils are wrong in consulting you whenever there are problems.
Your silence, Mr. Chancellor, will not make the problems go away, but your intervention will.