A consortium of trade unions at the University of Zambia (UNZA) namely the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers’ Union (UNZALARU), the University of Zambia Professional Staff Union (UNZAPROSU), and the University of Zambia Allied Workers’ Union (UNZAAWU) have bemoaned the management of the institution by the Caretaker Committee.
The three unions said they are greatly disappointed and saddened that the current regime through the Caretaker Committee has been interfering with the process of recruiting top officials at the university.
According to UNZALARU President Dr. Andrew Phiri, the institution’s Caretaker Committee Council (CCC) in consultation with the Education Minister Douglas Siakalima, constituted a seven-member ad-hoc Search Committee to select the Vice Chancellor and the two deputies in accordance to Higher Education Act of 2013 Section 16 subsection 1.
Dr. Phiri revealed that the CCC began its work in February this year by advertising for existing vacancies and shortlisting of candidates who met the requirements and were invited for interviews, but the interviews were abruptly halted when the Caretaker Committee at UNZA found out that their preferred candidates were not shortlisted for selection because they did not meet the criteria.
“We must point out here that the Government through the Ministry of Education and their Caretaker Committee wanted to use the Search Committee to rubberstamp the selection of individuals who are believed to be politically connected as top officials of the University Management,” he said.
Meanwhile, UNZAPROSU President Michael Kaluba said the recruitment of the top UNZA Officials under the new dawn administration is lacking credibility, accountability and transparency.
“The process is an embarrassment to the Hichilema administration which has always preached transparency and accountability in the operations of the public institutions,” he said.
And UNZAAWU General Secretary Mupuna Moonga said the institution has had no Vice Chancellor for over a year since the departure of Professor Luke Mumba and his deputy Tamara Kambikambi and has had no council in place for over nine years, adding that the university has been running on ad-hoc basis.
Meanwhile, the three trade unions at the institution called on government to immediately appoint a Substantive Council of UNZA that will oversee the recruitment of both the Vice Chancellor and the two deputies.
The unions further urged government to extend the ad-hoc Search Committee’s mandate to finalise its work without undue interference.
However, Education Minister Douglas Siakalima said the delay in appointment of top UNZA officials is due to the process involved as he is waiting for cabinet office to direct his ministry to proceed with the appointment process.