It is without a doubt that public university management is a sore subject for our President, perhaps even education in general because we remind him at every opportunity how he has failed in that sector.
It was Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM), as Minister of Education that University of Malawi (Unima) doors remained closed for over eight months. With his brother Bingu supporting him, you could not tell who was leading the public education sector.
As the older Mutharika was fanning the flames and arrogantly spitting in the face of Malawians that the Inspector General who at that time had his spies in the academic corridors of Unima would not apologise, the younger Mutharika was nowhere to be seen to solve the impasse.
As minister, returning from an international trip, a reporter posed a question to APM on his thoughts on proposals to introduce compulsory primary education. His response if Malawians had heard, would have conclusively informed them that he was clueless.
With this background, it is no wonder he did not hesitate to give in to students who dropped out when they could not afford K275 000 and the loans board could not accommodate as many students with K2 billion allocated to it.
But when K3 billion did not suffice last year, how can it do the same job this year when the fees is pegged at K400 000? There is absolutely no justification for such an appallingly insensitive fees hike. Unima has 10 students from each district who were supposedly selected from disadvantaged backgrounds. These are students who entered public university riding on the infamous quota which, according to the government, was meant to bring about equitable distribution in public tertiary education.
Public university closures, are not new but we had expected that problems of 1998 would not be problems of 2016.
There has to be action and it starts with the head of the university, the Chancellor himself.
Goodall will give the loans board money, probably at gun point, but that solution will be temporary. These are public universities for a reason, last time the nation checked they had not been privatised.
It is a mockery and an insult to students who dropped out when they could not pay quarter of a million to be able to pay half a million less than a year later.
It is high time the former Education Minister redeemed himself. He should not cower and run away from the current problems just the way he did when the going became tough in 2011.
As President, when people with albinism are mercilessly killed it rests on your shoulder. When Police use force to slap around innocent college students exercising their right of assembly to protest the unjustified fee hike, he is answerable. It does not sound fair, but then again, life has never been. He needs to put a stop to the madness and let Unima students go back to school. n