100 days of struggle to Academic Freedom

Academic members of staff of University of Malawi are on this day, declared RED DAY, Friday 27 May, 2011 going to march from Chancellor College campus into Zomba City in commemoration of 100 days of the struggle for academic freedom.

Earlier on Thursday this week, the High Court in Mzuzu granted an injunction against the Zomba City Assembly Chief Executive's attempt to stop the march.

The march organised by the lecturers union CCASU will start from Chancellor College main car park at 0930am to the heart of the city via Zomba Zero, and back to Chancellor College via Sir Harry Johnston road.

CASSU plans to hold a press conference after the march at Senior Common Room, Chancellor College.

Other activities will include a documentary and a cash barbeque and bar in the late afternoon to cool off.

Academic staff and well wishers passing Mponda Primary School in Zomba

The lecturers at Chancellor College started boycotting classes in mid February to demand for assurances on academic freedom which they felt was threatened when one of their colleague, Blessings Chinsinga, was summoned by Inspector General of Police Peter Mukhito over an example he gave in one of his classes on the causes of uprisings that toppled governments of Tunisia and Egypt.

Staff at the Polytechnic later joined their colleagues in boycotting classes. Fortunately for the academics, the students have backed their actions. Students have now been ordered to go home.

The government machinery (including President Mutharika) and the university council are fighting the lecturers in courts and outside courts (using threats and intimidation) in the hope they can crash the lecturers quest to seek assurance on academic freedom.

President Mutharika has now appointed a commission of inquiry to resolve the academic freedom crisis though the lecturers union say they have not been formally updated, and are sceptical of the motivation of the president.

Last month, prominent Malawian academics including Prof. Jack Mapanje, wrote Bingu wa Mutharika proposing a Commission of Inquiry into Malawi’s University Act Or International Commission on University Reform.

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