News that Malawi Government will table a bill in Parliament to formally detach Agricultural Research Extension Trust (Aret) from the newly-established Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) is a lesson to government not to politicise State issues.
It is regrettable that Parliament will spend valuable time discussing this bill, which could not have arisen if government had not made a hurried decision to include Aret, an institution that is not wholly owned by government, into Luanar, a public college.
While it is commendable that government is introducing more universities and colleges to cater for the rising demand for tertiary education in the country, politicising such decisions should be avoided at all cost.
We believe the inclusion of Aret and Chitedze Research Station (CRS) in Luanar was made so as to meet the requirement for a full-fledged university after Malawi University of Science and Technology was relocated to Ndata in Thyolo. In a rush to fulfil the requirement of having the minimum of four faculties to make a university, government decided to pull in Aret and CRS, without necessarily looking at other options that might have been available at that time.
Yes, other factors might have contributed to this detachment that government is seeking in Parliament, but if these matters were looked into, we believe this mistake would not have been made in the first place.
This also raises the question as to whether our Parliament really does scrutinise bills that are tabled in the House before passing them. Was Luanar not gazetted by the same Parliament? This calls for a serious scrutiny of the bill this time around, and indeed, all other matters that are discussed in Parliament. The 14 million Malawi population is counting on Parliament to make meaningful decisions on their behalf, not costly mistakes.