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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs