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AGGRIEVED union leaders at the University of Zambia (UNZA) sponsored yesterday’s students protest and attempted march to State House as a way of coercing management on their demand for improved conditions of service, UNZA vice chancellor Luke Mumba has said.

The students took advantage of the ‘sponsored’ protest to demand for the reinstatement of meal allowances and the ‘promised’ free education.
Prof Mumba said in an interview, that hundreds of UNZA students who attempted to march to State House during a protest at the main campus in Lusaka were allegedly sponsored by the unions that have been at loggerheads with university

management on their conditions of service.
The irate students were blocked along Addis Ababa Road by the police as they marched to State House to demand the dismissal of the entire university management and the reinstatement of their meal allowances.

University of Zambia Students Union (UNZASU) president Gabriel Banda said students were demanding that UNZA management be fired for failing to manage the affairs of the institution properly.

Mr Banda said the protest was as a result of the go -slow by lecturers which began on Saturday as well as the barring of some students from sitting for examinations slated for Monday.

“Our lecturers are no longer attending to us because management has refused to pay them which in is affecting our academic performance”, Mr Banda said.

The students also claimed that the university management closed the library despite knowing very well that examinations were starting on Monday.

When contacted, Prof Mumba however said that the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers’ Union, University of Zambia Professional Staff Union and the University of Zambia Allied Workers Union instigated the students into protesting.

He said some members of the unions closed the library without the blessings of management and chased all the students who were studying.
“They ignored the intervention of the chief librarian and went ahead to close the library without our knowledge,” Prof Mumba said.
He said the aggrieved students mobilized outside the library with instigation of the unions and started their protest.

Prof Mumba said the university had called on government to intervene in the matter.
During their protest, the students called on President Hakainde Hichilema to direct his government to look into the plight of the students as he promised to ensure that they would be taken care of.

The students said that they voted for the new government so that it could addresses the issues that they are facing including reinstating of meal allowances.
“We voted for this government because it promised us that it would ensure that it gives us back our meal allowances as well as free education therefore the President should listen to us,” the students chanted.
Meanwhile, University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers’ Union, University of Zambia Professional Staff Union and University of Zambia Allied Workers Union have all downed tools.
The three unions are demanding among others that top management vacates offices and for payment of terminal benefits for serving members of staff which stands at around K700 million.

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