By Innocencia Chikuse
Students at the University of Malawi in Zomba have written Chief Executive Officer of ESCOM, Kamkwamba Kumwenda, requesting the company to supply the university teaching area with stable 24/7 electricity arguing that the institution offers an essential service.
The students have threatened to hold protests at ESCOM if blackouts continue at the university.
The leaked letter signed by the Chairperson of concerned students, Humble C. S. Bondo, noted that the incessant load shedding going on in the country compounded by the general lack of fuel to run the institution’s diesel-powered gen-set has caused untold ‘academic angst’ among the students.
“Our library is not operating 24/7 as usual. Students are hardly studying. If no solution is found, their performance this semester will be greatly affected. Just imagine, Sir, second-year students yesterday writing a Discrete Mathematics test, were literally forced to use torches to continue writing exams when a blackout suddenly hit them. Quite a colossal national shame, not so?” reads the letter in part.
Further reads the letter: “We contend that university teaching premises offer essential services as it mints future leaders of a country and therefore just like is the case in security establishments, state residences as well health premises, supply of electricity therein must be stable. Surely, the first Chancellor of our university, the late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, whose standards remain unmatched, would not countenance your office to strangle the operations of a national university by depriving it of electricity.”
In solidarity with all Malawians, Bondo in the letter says the request for an uninterrupted supply of electricity should only be applicable to the teaching area comprising their main library, staff offices, and classrooms and not in their hostels.
“Let me be as candid as possible, there is brewing anger among the student community here vis-à-vis this issue among others. We are therefore sitting on a time bomb which will explode in your face and in the face of your masters shall this issue be treated with kid-gloves,” warned Bondo in the process giving ESCOM five working days starting Monday to respond to the student’s concerns.
The letter concludes: “Shall we not hear from you in the specified days, we will mobilize for demonstrations at your regional offices here in Zomba, demonstrations which will culminate into the vigil, in case that is the language that you will possibly hear to have our grievances attended to.”
Of late, the University of Malawi is laden with artificial problems which are stifling its smooth running. For instance, the students have been tussling with management which is putting its foot down to start offering one semester in a year, a move the students are determined to change arguing that they can’t be spending seven years in a program that is offered in four years.
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