The unilateral decision by the Minister of Higher Education Nkandu Luo to remove the five University of Zambia (UNZA) students from Government sponsorship is not only personal, appalling and unacceptable but also an act abuse of authority and office and total infringement of human rights and right to education for the said students, says Operation Young Vote (OYV).
OYV director Guess Nyirenda says ‘If it is indeed true that the affected students were not subjected to legal procedures as laid down in the students’ affairs disciplinary code at the institution, to be granted the much need opportunity to be heard, then the Minister was completely out of order’.
Nyirenda said his organisation does not support riots but that Luo should know very well or in case she has forgotten must be reminded that a person/suspect is innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law – or in the case of students the Students University Disciplinary Committee – whose decision can be appealed against to the court of law.
Nyirenda said It is very worrying that under the Patriotic Front (PF) regime, things are upside down, where one gets punished and then heard later. There are many examples to this effect.
‘What is also sad is the way and tone the Minister used when addressing the same issue with the media. There was autocracy in handling the whole matter.
‘The Minister must not sound as though the money paying for the sponsorship of students is hers as an individual – it’s not her personal money but tax payers and the same students’ parents and/or guardians are tax payers. It is actually more riotous and inhuman to unilaterally cut students (especially that they have been studying for many years) from Government sponsorship without any consideration for natural justice where the accused are given an opportunity to be heard’ Nyirenda said.
‘Operation Young Vote therefore demands that the Minister reverses the unilateral decision and allow the students an opportunity to be heard.
‘In the event that the Minister becomes adamant, as is always the case with the PF regime, we can only urge the students to remain strong and seek a judicial review in the courts of law,’ Nyirenda said.