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Former speaker doubts Peter Mutharika, Umsu meet

Former speaker of Parliament, Sam Mpasu, has said a fees hike meeting between the University of Malawi Students Union [Umsu] leadership and President Peter Mutharika slated for Thursday will offer no solutions but provides an opportunity for Mutharika to trick the students.

After police, University of Malawi (Unima) Council and students physical and verbal battles of the past weeks, Mutharika has offered the students an opportunity to present their grievances at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe.

This, according to Mpasu, is because Mutharika cannot do anything to address the problem now as the national budget which has potential to change things has already been passed.

He says the only way government can do away with the fees hike saga is to call for parliamentary meeting for Members of Parliament to discuss increase of funds allocated towards tertiary education to ease pressure on Unima Council.

“In any case, what do you think the President can do if the budgetary allocation remains as it is? The only thing to do is to get Parliament to pass a supplementary budget where they can put in some money for education but if that does not happen, then the President will only be hoodwinking them believing that there is a dialogue and that the President wants to help when in actual sense he doesn’t want to help,” Mpasu said.

He said the government policy is not on subsidising education, arguing if it had interest in uplifting and subsidising education, they would have put more money towards the sector.

He also warned that if such policy towards education will continue missing, the University Council will still be squeezing students through fees hiking.

“It seems education is not the priority of the government because it is not providing room for the University Council to manoeuvre. They can only free the council by providing more resources but although we can hold as many meetings as we can in as far as there is no money, in education, we will be crying and crying with university fees,” he said.

On Tuesday, the University Council stood its ground during a meeting with some education stakeholders in Lilongwe that the hiked fees will remain intact.

Umsu President, Tionge Sikwese, said they hope for a positive impact after meeting Mutharika who is Chancellor of the University.

“We are bringing the reality to the President. A lot has been said and the President has heard from other circles involved in this matter but he has not heard from us. So being the Chancellor, we are sure he will listen to us and demand a considerable hiking of the fees,” Sikwese said.

But Mutharika is on record to have said that no needy student will be withdrawn from the University as his government will provide all requirements to keep all students in college despite the fees hike.

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