UNIVERSITY of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers’ Union president Dr Evans Lampi says the government owes the university retirees and tutors over K500 million in retirement packages and gratuities. And Dr Lampi, an Electronics Engineer, has advised President Edgar Lungu to hold a press conference to address the nation on the true state of the economy. In a special interview in Lusaka, Dr Lampi lamented that UNZA owed billions of kwacha to many entities, including its workers.
“The state of the University of Zambia now is that we are in dire situation. If we were a private company, I think the university would have been liquidated. It owes billions of kwacha to many entities including workers. The biggest issue in respect to workers as I am talking is the payment of retirement and gratuities. What we have found as of now is that we have owed over K500 million in retirement packages. Some of the lecturers who are on contracts are in their third contracts without having been paid their last two gratuities,” Dr Lampi said.
“We are 8 years back in terms of the line of those to be paid…let’s say for example you retired in 2011 in January, they have not been paid up to today and if you died with your family having not been paid…okay now they paid the deceased, they got some K23 million somewhere from Ministry of Finance and paid the deceased but that was not even enough to pay all the deceased, most of them have not been paid.”
Dr Lampi further regrettably that government has been coming up with budgets, which it was failing to honour. He lamented that both Ministries of higher education and finance had been saying there was no money but lecturers would like to hear it from President Lungu. Dr Lampi explained that last year the government budgeted to spend over K190 million on higher education and UNZA was supposed to get K103 million, while CBU and Mulungushi, the other main government institutions of higher learning, were supposed to get chunks.
“But no money was released apart from K23 million and the minister had told us that by 31st December last year, they would pay this money which they haven’t paid up to now. This year they told us that by the end of March money would be paid but it wasn’t paid…and this is June. They said if they could just release this money then we would ask for supplementary but nothing has been paid, salaries have been late every month this year and when we ask government and managers of the university, government has no money and this why we insisted, can you tell us, what’s going on here,” he said.
Dr Lampi noted that if institutions like UNZA, which have actually built the nation, were limping then there was trouble.
“You remember one of the months even civil servants were not paid on time…what is going wrong; is government broke? What we find to be very strange as far as we are concerned is that the top politicians have been keeping quiet about the state of the economy because our line ministry says there is no money so we go to Ministry of Finance who say we are having problems so we are still waiting for ZRA. Are paying back the loans which we got for infrastructure development? Please, address the nation and if I had my way I would talk directly to the President and say look, you need to hold a press conference and explain to the people in this country what’s going on,” Dr Lampi said.
“We can’t be hearing through second hand, we can’t be hearing it from the Bank of Zambia and now we have heard it from the Minister of Finance. Institutions like UNZA, which have actually built the nation, in part, if they start limping then we are in trouble because all these ideas of setting up an airline…if the ones that are there you are not working then we are in big trouble as a nation. There needs to be some seriousness on priotisation on what needs to be spent on, I am not an expert in finance but I do know that there are some excesses in the way things are being done in terms of expenditure,” said Dr Lampi.