No date has been set yet for opening of Chancellor College (Chanco) following a standoff between University of Malawi (Unima) Council and academic staff with government’s intervention only managing to convince the two parties to meet on Tuesday.
Chanco has remained closed for close to seven months after the academic staff demanded harmonisation of salaries in all Unima constituent colleges.
Education Minister Emmanuel Fabiano, who addressed the media in Lilongwe yesterday after meeting representatives of Unima academic staff and Unima Council on Friday, said it is not in the interest of government to dictate what ought to be done as the wrangle involving the academic staff and their employer, the Unima Council, was labour-related.
Fabiano , however, said he was hopeful that the Unima Council and the academic staff are going to resolve their issues as soon as possible although he maintained that government can never put a timeframe on resolving the matter.
He said: “ A s government, we are equally concerned that this issue is taking too long to be resolved. However, from this meeting we just needed to find out from the council and academic staff where the problem lies [and] after that we have agreed they should meet on Tuesday when we are hoping that tangible results will be reached at.”
Fabiano quashed suggestions that government was acting in response to the calls by delegates to the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) all-inclusive meeting to open the college in two weeks.
Unima Council member Limbani Nsapato said the council is committed to having the matter resolved; hence, their agreement to attend the Tuesday meeting.
Chancellor College Academic Staff Union (Ccasu) president Anthony Gunde was also optimistic of the outcome of the Tuesday meeting being facilitated by government.
He, however, emphasised that the matter is labour-related, hence the need to have it resolved between the council and the academia.
Chancellor College student, Temweka Gondwe, who also sits on the Unima Council, expressed concern over the long stand-off between the academic staff at her college and the Unima Council.
“As long as these parties keep on delaying, we will also be delaying our academic calendar which will in the long run have a negative impact on our studies. Therefore, we would like this to be resolved as soon as possible,” she said.
The stand-off over salary harmonisation took a twist recently when Ccasu rejected Unima Council’s proposal to refer the matter to the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) on the basis that both parties had not yet commenced dialogue on recommendations made by arbitrator Modecai Msisha.