COPPERBELT University Students Union (COBUSU) president Humphrey Mwenya has apologised to President Lungu and Government for leading a team of students in a bid to disrupt the wreath-laying ceremony during the 51st independence anniversary celebrations at Kaunda Square in Kitwe on Saturday.
Mr Mwenya also apologised to Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Chishimba Kambwili, who was guest of honour during Independence anniversary celebrations in Kitwe.
Mr Mwenya assured President Lungu that CBU students would never engage in such retrogressive acts in future.
He said in an interview in Kitwe yesterday that the students have regretted their actions, which resulted in the arrest of 16 of their colleagues by the police.
“We would like to apologise to President Lungu and Government for what happened on Saturday during independence celebrations. We are sorry for that,” said Mr Mwenya, who was among the students who were arrested by the police at Kaunda Square.
COBUSU vice-president Miselo Mumba said the entire students’ leadership is in support of Mr Mwenya’s apology to President Lungu and Government.
“We are happy that all our friends who were arrested on Saturday have been released. We just want to appeal to the police to first monitor and observe the situation,” Mr Mumba said.
And Kitwe Central Hospital (KCH) spokesperson Grey Chishimba has refuted reports that a CBU student who sustained injuries when the wall collapsed on them while running way from the police on Saturday has died.
Mr Chishimba said in an interview yesterday that the reports are false and that the health institution only has one female student identified as Kalunga Malate admitted to one of the wards.
He also said the referral hospital is attending to another student admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) who is scheduled to have an operation and was not part of Saturday’s fracas.
“It is not true that one of the CBU students has died at our institution. In our wards, we only have one female student from CBU, who was brought in on Saturday after the fracas.
“We also have another student from the same institution who is scheduled to undergo an operation. That student was admitted to the institution last week and he is not dead,” Mr Chishimba said.
Meanwhile, lecturers and academic staff at CBU yesterday staged a peaceful protest demanding that Government appoint a new management at the institution.
The placard-carrying lecturers converged on the old graduation square and protested.
Copperbelt University Academics Union (CBUAU) president Mwiya Songolo said: “We want Dr Kaingu [Minister of Higher Education] to act on the report that was submitted to him by the caretaker committee. What we want is for Professor Naison Ngoma, vice-chancellor, to go,” Mr Songolo said.
Meanwhile, ALVIN CHIINGA reports that the Zambia Federation of Employers (ZFE) has condemned the work stoppage at CBU.
ZFE president Tyson Chisambo said in a statement yesterday that the go-slow by workers at CBU is disappointing to employers because it has been done without the consideration of the students’ future.
“Just this past June, the union members had withdrawn their labour leading to the closure of the university and disturbing the students’ academic calendar for two months,” he said.
Mr Chisambo said that the situation has now degenerated to a point where the students face reaction from police.
He said that the federation fully supports Dr Kaingu’s stance that Government will not bow down to demands the workers are making.
Mr Chisambo said ZFE is greatly disappointed that the lecturers and academic staff entrusted with mentoring the youth have resorted to attempting to hold the institution and its students to ransom.
He called upon the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to provide guidance to the workers on the matter.
Mr Chisambo urged the workers at CBU to resume work unconditionally and follow the correct procedure for airing grievances.
He also called on Government to be firm in dealing with this matter and ensure that discipline is restored to the second highest learning institution.
Mr Chisambo said the demands to have Prof Ngoma and his management team removed from office are illegal as they breach legal obligations and do not form part of the collective agreement.
He said as one of the highest learning institutions, CBU has a critical role to play in the provision of skills to the labour market.
By press time, Minister of Higher Education Michael Kaingu could not be reached for a comment as his mobile phone was off.