Chancellor College Students Union president James Ayuba Sylvester has claimed that President Peter Mutharika behaved like a tip pot dictator when he met student leaders at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe on Thursday, saying he gagged them from expressing themselves freely.
Ayuba told Nyasa Times that that he was told to “shut up” by President Muthalika during the fees hike meeting.
President ordered a K50 000 reduction in the fees from a minimum of K400 000 to K350 000 per student per year.
According to Ayuba, he was gagged after he wanted to put it across to President Mutharika to prioritise issues that can contribute to the country’s development, arguing that the reduction is manifestly inadequate as the fees would affect development as many students from economically poor backgrounds will fail to access tertiary education.
He said his argument was to ask the President and his colleagues not to reach a conclusion on Muthalikas’ decision without consulting their fellow students whom they represent.
“I was very shocked to hear Muthalika telling me to shut up without giving me a right ot be heard. I concluded that the President just wanted us to rubber stamp his decision, justified or not,” said Ayuba.
“We were there not to say our views but the students’ and for us to rush accepting the K50, 000 deduction as the President wanted was part of betraying our fellow students who are also affected by the current fees hiked,” he explained.
He therefore said the President should not think it is closed matter because they have not consulted their fellow students on the matter.
University of Malawi Students Union (UMSU) president Tiwonge Sikwese said “we are yet to meet with our fellows therefore it will be difficult to say something.”
During the meeting, Muthalika also ordered the the reopening of Chancellor College which was closed after the students’ protest.
Addressing the students before the meeting, Mutharika had however, stressed that fees in Universities should not be expected to be cheap arguing that learning facilities need to be of good quality and that University qualifications should meet international standards.
He said “We don’t want you to graduate as international rejects. I don’t want the international community of universities questioning our qualifications and you yourselves are not happy with some of the conditions and environment in which you learn. Most Malawians want us to improve our education.”
On the other hand, he appreciated the dialogue approach taken by the students in approaching him saying “breaking other people’s cars and burning your own hostels will not bring you any solution.”
The Head of State has since promised to look into the portfolio of mature entry students to see how the fee reduction would be effected according to Sikwese.
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