The University of Zambia(UNZA) management should reduce or remove the surcharge of K1000 imposed on students following the riot that happened last year in September, Socialist Party (SP) National Youth Secretary, Gabriel Banda has appealed to President Hakainde Hichilema(HH).
And Mr. Banda dispelled the attribution of the riot to students, asserting that blame should fall on the university’s management.
He said the release of a memo canceling elections due to inadequate funds was a weak excuse, emphasizing that students should not be held accountable for the ensuing disturbance.
Mr Banda who is former University of Zambia Student Union(UNZASU) president says the students together with their guardians are already feeling the ‘pinch’ of the economy therefore adding another burden[Surcharge] is not only unfair but [taxing] the students which is unacceptable.
“With the current escalating cost of living, high cost of basic needs, how can UNZA management charge poor students a surcharge of K1,000,how can they ask broke parents to pay them a k1,000 , where will these parents find a k1,000 in this economy?,” Mr Banda wondered.
Mr Banda alleged in a statement today, that UNZA Management imposed a K1000 on students without consulting stakeholders including Government, parents or sponsors, the Lecturers union, Workers union or even UNZASU.
“I am aware that surcharge have always been there in public institutions whenever riots erupted. But check history and look at how much was charged,” He said.
“I recall a few years ago, the highest UNZA has charged as surcharge was K250 in 2016 and 2019 after the riot which led to the demise of [Vespers Shimunzila].That was the highest surcharge ever.”
Mr Banda further said it is unacceptable and an irresponsible act for UNZA Management to blame students for something they could have avoided.
“I was UNZASU president and UNZASU budgets for all activities and both University policy and Public financial management Act does not allow any Public institution to spend money for an activity which was never budgeted for,” He said.
The Former UNZASU president reiterated his appeal to President Hichilema to direct the Ministry of Education under Mr Douglas Siakalima to guide UNZA Management.
“I appeal that the surcharge of K1000 be reduced to the known practice of k250 or be totally abandoned considering current economic hardships coupled with the high cost of living for our people,” Mr Banda said.
In the memo released last year a month after the riot, UNZA management said all affected students will only be able to access their results after a payment of the K1000.
Results for the 2022/23 academic year are expected to be published next week on Monday.
UNZASU president Vincent Musilikani assured students that the union will lobby for a reduction or removal of the surcharge through legal processes.