Chancellor College (Chanco) lecturers have written President Joyce Banda asking her to dissolve the University of Malawi (Unima) Council, accusing it of reigniting the academic freedom struggle.
This follows a recent court action in which the council wants some lecturers to contribute funds in compensating some students who sued the authorities.
The petition, titled â€˜Vote of No Confidence in University of Malawi Council and Top University Managementâ€™ dated July 10, 2012, was sent to the President on Tuesday and is signed by Chancellor College Academic Staff Union (Ccasu) president Sunduzwayo Madise.
The lecturers have also written the council demanding it to withdraw the court action in which it is asking former Ccasu acting president Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula and the Attorney General to contribute almost K55 million as compensation to students who sued the council during the academic freedom impasse.
Says Madise in the letter: â€œThis is happening at a time when the University of Malawi should be expending its energies to restore and rebuild its battered image after the academic freedom struggle. This action, to say the least, has reignited the dark days of the academic freedom saga.
â€œYour Excellency, it is our conviction that councilâ€™s action is a deliberate and calculated scheme by a clique to sabotage the emerging harmony within the university and create room for chaos and conflict. As a union, we refuse to be complicit to such a scheme.â€
He says the lecturers had hope after the President, during the opening session of the recent Academic Freedom Symposium, expressed her personal and governmentâ€™s role in defending academic freedom as enshrined in the Constitution.
Madise argues that more worrying is what he called the deliberate abuse of the court process by raising issues on which two High Court Justices had already made clear pronouncements.
As of Tuesday evening, presidential press secretary Steve Nhlane said he was not yet aware of whether or not the President had received the petition.
In another letter to the Unima Council also dated July 10 2012 and entitled â€˜Demand of Withdrawal of Legal Action Against Ccasuâ€™, Madise says the lecturers do not see any merit in the court action â€œsave as a ploy to disrupt teaching and learning in the university.â€
Unima Council chairperson James Seyani could not be immediately reached for comment on the two letters.
Meanwhile, as we went to press, it was learnt that the court case has been discontinued.