By JAMES KUNDA –
COBBERBELT University (CBU) in Kitwe has been closed indefinitely, Education Minister Michael Kaingu has announced. CBU boarding students have been given up to 13:00 hours today to leave the institution. Lecturers at the institution had for more than three weeks downed tools to push for the resignation of CBU Vice-Chancellor, Naison Ngoma and the entire management for alleged failure to manage the institution. Dr Kaingu said at a press conference in Lusaka yesterday that the appointment of CBU academics union president Mwiya Songolo to the University Council had been revoked. “The Copperbelt University will be closed, indefinitely, with immediate effect. All students are given 24 hours to vacate the premises by today 13:00 hours,” he said. The closure was in accordance with the powers vested in the minister as provided by the Higher Education Act 2013, which also applied in the revocation of Mr Songolo’s appointment to the Council. Dr Kaingu said the closure of the institution would not affect the schools of Medicine and Graduate studies which had continued with normal academic programmes. The CBU graduation ceremony which is scheduled for July 23 and 24, this year, would also go ahead as planned. Several attempts have been made by the CBU Council to engage unionised lecturers over the grievances raised on the management of the institution but this had not yielded any results. Dr Kaingu noted that the recent actions by the academic union were in disregard of the mandate of the Council as elaborated in part five, division one of the Higher Education Act number four of 2013. Dr Kaingu has since directed the CBU council to work towards resolving the issues that have constrained normal operations for the University to restore academic and intellectual excellence. “I have instructed the council to work closely with officials of my ministry and their counterparts in the ministry of Labour to ensure that agreements between management and the unions are in conformity,” he said. The university has been rocked with confusion over the past weeks. A recent riot by students to force order resulted in the arrest of more than 140 students, who were later released from police custody. CBU students’ union has on the other hand filed an interim injunction restraining the senate of the university from closing the institution.