Despite the silence, the task force overseeing the unbundling of Unima constituent colleges into autonomous universities is working behind the scenes, Nation on Sunday has learnt.
Meanwhile, the task force chaired by McPhail Magwira has said preparations of three bills required to change the University of Malawi (Unima) Act, to give way for the unbundling, is in progress.
In an interview on Wednesday, Magwira disclosed that by the time the Unima Council endorsed the decision last July, budget for the financial year 2017/18 had already been adopted.
He said government made a special request to Treasury for the funding to the task force, which Treasury honoured about a week ago.
Magwira said the expectation was to table the three bills in the last sitting of Parliament, but it failed because they still had work to do, including consultations with various stakeholders.
“We are making final touches on the draft bills. As a task force, we are meeting next Tuesday and Friday to review what we have been doing, and that will include finalising our work on the draft bills.
“When this is done, we will send the bills to Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for review and then to Ministry of Education for onward processes.
“It is our prayer that these bills will be ready at least in two months’ time so that come November [the next sitting of Parliament], they should be tabled in Parliament [for passing into law],” he said.
Magwira said he was hopeful parliamentarians would support the bills and pass them, as this is the only important stage in the whole process of making colleges under Unima autonomous.
He said by the time the bills would be ready for tabling in Parliament, the task force would have already proposed names for the universities.
Magwira disclosed that the task force’s terms of reference include identifying board members of the-would-be independent universities and council members immediately the bills are passed.
Magwira, who retired recently as principal secretary (PS) for Ministry of Education, said when the task force’s role comes to an end, the new boards and councils for the autonomous universities would pick up their roles to upgrade the universities. He said it may take about two years to completely make the colleges autonomous.
Magwira, however, said he did not know how much the task force has received from Treasury, only saying it is substantial, but he would know about the figure at the Tuesday meeting.
PS for Education Justin Saidi on Friday also confirmed that the task force was funded, but he, also, did not have the figure.
Unima vice-chancellor Professor John Kalenga Saka confirmed that the task force appointed to oversee the unbundling of Unima was doing its work and the Unima Council was providing the needed support.
He said it took the task force, the council and other players more time to work on the draft bills, but agreed that the process was in the final stages.
In August 2017, the Unima Council endorsed the delinking of the College of Medicine, Kamuzu College of Nursing and The Polytechnic from Unima, with Chancellor College remaining as University of Malawi.