As the closure of public universities triggers blame game between the universities councils and president Peter Mutharika, education and human rights campaigner Benedicto Kondowe has accused the Malawi president of shifting the blame on councils and managements.
In a space of one month, three public colleges have been closed due to different challenges. The institutions include Mzuzu University (Mzuni) which was closed due to industrial action by the workers, Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) hit by water crisis, constituent colleges of Malawi College of Health Sciences and Malawi Polytechnic is yet to open.
But president Mutharika, who is also the chancellor of all public universities, has distanced himself from the academic crisis arguing the councils and managements are responsible for the problems and they should, therefore, devise solutions to the problems.
Speaking in Lilongwe on Wednesday during the first congregation of the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar), the president challenged the councils and managements of public universities to stop looking up to him whenever there is a crisis.
“I know that some people are eager to point fingers at the Head of State and Chancellor for every problem that arises in the universities. I am the ultimate authority and I don’t mind.
“But we must remember the principles of good governance. The governance of every university is done by the council and its management. We have empowered them by law to govern the universities on behalf of the government. And I do not expect everything to come to me. I expect the council and management to do what is required of them,” said Mutharika as quoted by The Nation.
However, the fighter for quality education Benedicto Kondowe, who is also Civil Society Education Coalition Executive director, has described Mutharika’s remarks as an indicator that the president does not know why he is holding the position of a chancellor.
“If the president believes councils and managements hold final solutions to every problem, including the ones currently rocking the institutions of higher learning, then he must cease being the chancellor.
“The Chancellor is in that position to provide as the head so that councils and managements should seek his guidance and solution whenever a problem beyond their capacity arises. Now, if he thinks he does not have those solutions, then he can as well cease assuming this position,” said Kondowe in an interview with The Nation.
Meanwhile, Mzuni and Malawi Polytechnic students have asked the president to intervene and reopen the colleges.