By Tapela Lungu and Darlingtone Kabambe
The University of Zambia retirees’ committee chairperson, Japhet Wandila has called on government to immediately off-set the over K500 million owed to its members.
Mr Wandila said this when retired members chanted solidarity slogans demanding for their benefits at the UNZA graduation square on Thursday.
He said from 2010 to date, UNZA retirees have not been paid their dues and wondered why government is failing to pay them despite the institution being in a hurry to continue employing people when there is still other bills unsettled.
“We agree that government has problems with funds but we are not going to sit down, what we want is our money,” demanded Mr Wandila.
Mr Wandila said the Ministry of Finance should quickly release money to UNZA in order to pay all the retirees their dues.
“We are supporting the move taken by lecturers at the University of Zambia by going on a go – slow demanding for their monies so that the government knows their needs,” he said.
Mr Wandila wondered why the government fails to allocate resources for the University retirees and yet they are able to pay or release benefits to other sectors of the society leaving UNZA retirees.
He also noted with sadness that most retirees have been dying without receiving their benefits.
“We have lost about 36 retirees so far and their widows are here in the hope of a solution to this saga but to no avail,” he said.
Mr Wandila said that the retired workers had worked for the institution for over 25-30 years for the University as well as the government but their efforts were not being appreciated.
When reached for a comment, University of Zambia Public Relations Manager Damaseke Chibale said that the institution was not in the capacity to comment on the issue as it is out of its jurisdiction for fear of jeopardizing the demands from the retirees.
And Higher Education Minister Prof. Nkandu Luo said all UNZA retirees should visit her office so that they could have a chart and find the way forward to their demands.
Prof. Luo said her office is open for any dialogue adding that chanting slogans was not a good way of resolving problems.
Tapela Lungu is an award-winning writer and former Media and Communication studies student at the University of Zambia who has a strong passion to write, read and explore. He was the Managing Editor for the online magazine. As a writer, he has a strong interest in human interest stories, community news and stories that impact human development and health.