If you are failing to feed even poor students, then I don’t think you should be in power as a government, Dr Evans Lampi has told the PF.
Dr Lampi, the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) president, said scrapping off meal allowance for public universities showed that the Patriotic Front had lost contact with reality.
Reacting to the government’s decision to abolish meal allowances at public universities, Dr Lampi said the PF had now gotten used to cushy jobs, tax free incentives and have thus forgotten the common man whose vote they ride on for convenience.
“I think the PF has lost contact with reality because in the real world, food comes first. Because now they have gotten used to their Cushy jobs, tax free everything, they have forgotten the common man…very soon they will be coming around asking people; ‘you vote for us’ using a ka dance tune. If you are failing to feed even poor students then I don’t think you should be in power as a government,” Dr Lampi said.
“It’s in our considered opinion as a union which represents academics in this country that the decision to remove meal allowances is going to disadvantage the poor in this nation. We thought the Patriotic Front was a pro-poor party but anyone who knows and has been to the University of Zambia knows fully well that you cant sponsor somebody and then leave them hungry, it’s not fair.”
Dr Lampi urged higher education minister Professor Nkandu Luo to rescind her decision.
“This is Professor Nkandu Luo who was educated on government funding, even part of her education, even if it was foreign aided, was because of the Zambian government and there you are condemning the poor people. Who will this affect? Did they do any analysis as a government on what the effect will be? Someone comes all the way, let’s say from my village in Kalasamukoso in Samfya to Lusaka and you expect a poor peasant to pay for their meals in Lusaka? that’s not fair. If it’s a way of punishing students, this is not the way to do it,” Dr Lampi said.
He lamented that the ruling government was behaving like one who uses a ladder to get to the top and then gets rid of it when he has achieved his mission.
Dr Lampi maintained that the PF government should rescind its decision on meal allowances, as the most affected would be the poor in society.
He wondered what kind of money was being saved by disadvantaging learners and for what purpose.
“We support the students as a union because we are the ones who teach them. When they are in class, we know that they are going to eat but when you take away food from any person, they won’t get educated, it’s not possible. The Patriotic Front government needs to rescind its decision on removing the meal allowances. Issues of protesting should never be connected to issues of eating. The Patriotic Front government, especially Nkandu Luo, are behaving like a man who has climbed up the ladder and when they reach the top they remove the ladder so that others don’t climb up. In society the only equaliser is education, social mobility. None of us in this country are three generations away from poverty, we’re all educated because the founding fathers of this nation found that it was important for people to get an education, so when you remove that because…I don’t know what kind of money you are trying to save, to pay who? This is not a social welfare state. If you are failing to feed even poor students then I don’t think you should be in power as a government,” said Dr Lampi.