Dear judge Mbadwa,
My Lord, you know because of the position I hold and the immunity I enjoy, I cannot be appearing in your court at the whimsical call of some deviant lecturers of a university college that calls itself by my name.
But as a Chancellor, who is also a professor of constitutional law, I have drafted a statement that will form part of my testimony to silence these wild minds once and for all.
Firstly, I had to curtail my important address at this important university, here in the Queen’s land because these men of letters were agitating for my recall back home, arguing I had no moral high ground to talk about quality education and strides that Nyasaland has made while their college remain closed and when teachers in public schools are virtually on strike.
But is it my fault that I am getting a semblance of honour abroad?
My Lord, I have told councils of public universities time and again that I am just a ceremonial Chancellor and I am not responsible for the welfare of the staff they hire.
In case you have not read the Act of the University of Nyasaland. It categorically states that there should be a council that “would determine the salary scales and general rates of payment for all categories of staff appointed by the university and for all persons commissioned to give services to the university and to appoint and employ such persons and pay their salaries, wages or fees” and even terminate their appointments.
Nowhere does it state that the Chancellor shall be responsible for negotiating salaries of academic staff and I cannot usurp the powers of the council I appointed. My Lord, I think the complainants have the liberty to petition my office, asking me to fire the council otherwise I don’t meddle in the affairs of public universities.
You know the only time I interfere is when I issue decrees to open the college as a way of showing my supporters that I am in control. My Lord, even if I decree that the college should open, who is going to listen to me?
I want everybody to know that I subscribe to academic freedom and there is nothing wrong in letting the students spend a year at home doing nothing and in letting lecturers’ grievances left unattended to.
When these wrangles are resolved on their own, since that is my policy, I will ensure that we revisit our education policy as regards university education.
Now My Lord, some have been questioning my loyal minister of education’s conduct in the matter. Well, what did you expect him to do? Fabulous Manuele was a vice-chancellor of Nyasaland University himself and he knows that he can’t be a trade unionist and minister at the same time. I agree with him that the right ministry to handle this standoff is that of Labour. In fact, that explains the reason I did nothing when I was minister of Education during Moya’s reign. You have to learn from your boss, don’t you think so?
My Lord, eventually I will use my discretion to put this university college under the ministry of Labour to avoid future impasses. I am the one who is chancellor and I will not be dictated by anyone at all.
Waiting to hear from you,
Chancellor Mapuya writing from Bruxelles