Malawians ought to be very worried with President Peter Mutharika’s professed failure to be the spine and give direction and guidance on the crises facing the country’s public universities. Mutharika is not Chancellor for these institutions as a mere decoration. He is Chancellor because he is the President of this country. As such the buck stops at him. The President should not be talking to Malawians as if we are in the kindergatern.
The four months closure of the Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, due to a disagreement on fee hike; and Mzuzu University due to staff salary disagreements are crises of no small proportions.
By the way, Natural Resources College, a constituent college of the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) for which APM is also Chancellor, and the Malawi College of Health Sciences were also closed several months ago.
What Malawians should get most worried about is APM’s blunt statement during the first Luanar congregation in Lilongwe on Wednesday this week, and I quote:
“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.” End of quote.
Malawians should really get worried with such statements when they are coming from the President. This arrogance and splashing it in our face that he doesn’t mind means that he is not the right person to be the ultimate authority of these institutions.
But lest APM doesn’t know, as President of this country and Chancellor of all public universities, he should be the first person to be worried when the institutions he is heading get paralysed for whatever reason as is the situation now. He should also know that such a statement coming from him does not bode well for the future of education in Malawi. If he doesn’t mind when students in the closed institutions see no hope for their lives because the leadership seems unconcerned with their plight, what does the future hold for this country? We should be afraid, very afraid.
Of course, I for one I am not very surprised with this arrogance. It is reminiscent of the nine month closure of Chancellor College over the academic freedom saga a couple of years ago when Mutharika was Minister of Education.
I refuse to think that the powers arrogated to the university councils to manage the country’s public universities insulate or absolve the Chancellor from blame when things are not going well in the institutions. The President is the driver of the sheep called Malawi where these universities are. As such he ought to be very concerned when the vessel he is steering is in troubled waters and he thinks it is someone else’s inefficiency.
If the President does not expect every crisis in these institutions to get to him, he is in the wrong job. As a leader he ought to be concerned when things the entities he is leading are heading towards disaster.
APM is totally wrong to blame the university councils of inefficiency and failing to resolve the problems the universities are facing. Was it not him who a few months ago reduced students financial contributions after Council of the University of Malawi had made a decision on student fees? Come on Mr. President, if it is not your job what business did you have making Council members look like cartoons?
What is clear from APMs’ failure to provide solutions to the institutions is that as many have rightly said he should cease to be Chancellor of the country’s universities. His being Chancellor does not add any value to them.