Time out! Deadline for Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to present a report to Chancellor of the University of Malawi (Unima), President Peter Mutharika, on the issue of unbundling of the university, is today.
The report is expected to explicitly confirm that the majority of the people consulted have opted for unbundling of the Unima and recommendations therein on how that can best be handled and implemented.
On Wednesday, Unima Council met at The Malawi Polytechnic in Blantyre to consider arguments either in favour of unbundling or against it, Unima registrar Benedicto Malunga confirmed.
“[From here], the council will submit to the Chancellor of Unima [President Mutharika] its recommendations on April 30 [today] as was required by the honourable Minister of Education,” Malunga said.
The registrar, however, declined to disclose what was specifically discussed, arguing that was going to be inappropriate because the Chancellor had not yet read and acted on the report.
But a member participating in the discussions, who opted not to be mentioned, said what happened at The Polytechnic meeting raised eyebrows and feared that views of the majority may be suppressed.
The source said: “What happened was that after presentations from participants, the council sent out of the meeting all principals, senators and the vice-chancellor.
“Thereafter, the council chairman [Jack Wirima], appointed councillors and government representatives remained behind and deliberated on their own without the full council representatives.”
The source said after this, the members that were sent out were called in and told that they had deliberated on the unbundling issue and were going to communicate to the President, but the decision was never made known to the members that were sent out.
There was fear, according to the source, that those that remained might have been influenced by central management’s position, which has from the word go, not favoured unbundling.
But Malunga explained that all those that were sent out were told that normal governance practice requires interested parties to recuse themselves when a matter involving their personal interests is being discussed.
“This was not the first time for it to be done. All the time this is how business is done when a matter in which staff have vested interests is being discussed. There is nothing unusual about this because you cannot decide your own fate,” the registrar said.
In any way, he said, the meeting was meant to receive a report from the Senate where the merits and demerits of unbundling the university were thoroughly discussed for onward transmission to the Chancellor.
Malunga said : “ The nonpartisan councilors who remained in the meeting discussed how they were going to package in their report what they had heard from the Senate. This process was made very clear by the chairperson before they were asked to leave.”
Around mid month, Minister of Education Emmanuel Fabiano met Unima Council and the University management in Lilongwe where the issue of unbundling Unima was lengthily discussed. At that meeting, the university senate and management were given a task to provide a report to the council on the process of unbundling, and the ministry was to proceed to present the same to Mutharika by today.
Principals from all the four colleges, Chancellor College, The Polytechnic, College of Medicine (CoM) and Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) have been attending the meetings where they have reportedly supported unbundling of Unima. The principals at a time the Public Service Reforms Commission was engaging institutions, caught Unima Council and Unima’s central office senior leadership unawares when they raised proposals of Unima unbundling.
President Peter Mutharika mentioned about the unbundling of Unima three years ago, when Unima celebrated 50 years anniversary at CoM, saying he was aware that some colleges wanted to break away from Unima and promised he was not going to stand in their way.