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Unima delinking on—Saulos Chilima

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Benedicto Kondowe

The government has made a U-turn on its intention to stop University of Malawi (Unima)’s delinking process, with State Vice President Saulos Chilima indicating Thursday that the process would continue.

He said three Unima constituent colleges— the College of Medicine, The Polytechnic and Kamuzu College of Nursing— would become stand-alone public universities.

On January 22 this year, Unima Council resolved, at its extraordinary meeting, to stop the delinking process, which was initiated about four years ago.

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It further described the decision to effect the delinking process, which Unima Council members made at their 202nd extraordinary meeting held on July 10 2017, as ultra vires and not in line with its powers.

However, Chilima, in a statement issued after a meeting with Unima Council members and stakeholders— including Justice Minister Titus Mvalo and Attorney General Chikosa Silungwe— says delinking is a progressive process as it would increase the number of those having access to higher education services.

The Vice President adds that delinking would improve governance and operational efficiency in public universities.

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When the delinking exercise is complete, Malawi will witness the birth of public universities namely Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (Mubas) through Act No. 19 of 2019; Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (Kuhes); and University of Malawi (Unima) Act No. 18 of 2019.

“Prior to delivering its position today, there have been consultations within the government hierarchy to affirm its position to proceed with the delinking process,” the press statement, which the Office of the Vice President released yesterday, reads.

Chilima says Thursday’s meeting was a follow up to another one, held on February 2 2021, at which stakeholders discussed the resolution made by the council to review the process of delinking the university.

“Moving forward, the Ministry of Education will proceed to gazette the commencement date for the 2019 Acts of Parliament in line with Section 74 of the Constitution; implement a detailed Plan of Action on the delinking; and establish a Transitional Unit to oversee and conclude the process,” the statement adds.

Meanwhile, Civil Society Education Coalition Executive Director Benedicto Kondowe has hailed the decision.

Kondowe said the delinking process would result in vibrancy in the education sector and would also accord young people a chance to access high education services.

“We wish to state here that even the leadership should be strong because one wonders whether indeed the council did have the powers to set aside such a very important process without the knowledge of the chancellor,” Kondowe said.

Apart from Mvalo and Silungwe, the meeting was also attended by Director of Higher Education Levis Enaya and officials from the Department of Statutory Corporations and Public Sector.

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