News / Africa

Malawi College Teacher Boycott Shows No Sign of Ending

Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula, president of Chancellor College Academic Staff Union, says President Mutharika's recent comments show executive arrogance

Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula of Malawi (center)
Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula of Malawi (center)

Multimedia

Audio
  • Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula of Chancellor College spoke with Butty

James Butty

Lecturers at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, continue their weeks-long boycott, despite an order by President Bingu wa Mutharika to return to the classroom.

The lecturers say their academic freedom was infringed on when Inspector General of Police Peter Mukhito summoned an associate political science professor for a lecture which drew parallels between Malawi's current fuel crisis and the uprisings that toppled governments in Tunisia and Egypt.

The lecturers are demanding an apology and an assurance that their academic freedom will not be infringed on again.

But, last weekend, Mutharika defended Mukhito’s actions. The president reportedly says he, as commander-in-chief of Malawi Police Services, cannot apologize to what he called a “mere lecturer.”

Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula, president of the Chancellor College Academic Staff Union, says Mutharika’s comments amount to executive arrogance.

Malawi College Teacher Boycott Shows No Sign of Ending
Malawi College Teacher Boycott Shows No Sign of Ending

“The president, in a party meeting [Saturday], actually said he wanted [to] reiterate what he said last Friday, that is to say that the Inspector General of Police will not apologize. He said, if the Inspector General of police apologizes, because the president is the commander-in-chief of the police, it would be as if he is apologizing,” she says.

Kabwila-Kapasula says a leader who actually feels he or she has done something wrong and apologizes for it would be looked upon favorably by the citizens.

“One would like to think that as a leader who actually can apologize when they feel they have done something wrong, in my opinion, I don’t think it will make him a weak leader at all; it will actually make him gain a lot of support in my eyes or in the eyes of a good number of his voters and citizens of this country because they will know that he has seen where he has gone wrong. But, apparently, he says he cannot do that. To me, that comes out as executive arrogance,” Kabwila-Kapasula says.

She says the lecturers have gone to court to challenge the constitutionality of Mutharika’s order for them to return to the classroom as well Mukhito’s summons of associate political science professor Blessings Chinsinga.

“On Saturday he [Mutharika] gave an order that we should go back to class without any of our demands being met, and we went to court to ask if that order is constitutional. We have also gone to court to get a stay so that order and anything that is attending to that order, there should be a stay on that. We’ve also asked the court to interpret if what the Inspector General of Police did to Dr. Chinsinga, and by extension to us, is constitutional,” Kabwila-Kapasula says.

She says the courts are expected to rule on the appeals by April 20. And, Kabwila-Kapasula says several Malawian organizations are expressing solidarity with the university lecturers.

“Several organizations in the country are expressing solidarity and underlining that the issue academic freedom is pivotal to many issues of development and defines citizenry in many ways. For example, we had the Law Society and then we also had MCTU, which [is] the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions. We’ve also had constituent colleges joining in this show of fear to teach,” she says.

Kabwila-Kapasula also says all the organizations have agreed to take what she calls unspecified action if their academic freedom is not assured.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid