Leaders of polytechnic students union(PSU) who participated the unima council meeting in the capital city Lilongwe on Monday, have revealed the council challenged them either to withdraw the court injunction on fees hike for immediate opening of the college or  to hold until July when resources will be on deck.

Chifundo Nkhata, PSU Secretary General, was not at the meeting but got resolutions from the three union leaders who were at the meeting said the council told them that there will be no legal fee for the injunction withdrawal.

The Unima Council is said to have told the meeting, which also had some people representing parents and five ordinary students from The Polytechnic, that there are no resources to keep The Polytechnic running if it opens as there is a deficit of about K1 billion.

The University of Malawi Students Union (UMSU) leadership including PSU President, Frank Msiska, walked out of the meeting in protest against what they described as management’s attempts to use them to rubber stamp decisions not in favour of needy students.

Nkhata said during the meeting, a brief meeting of all PSU Council representatives that were in attendance was called and bearing in mind that the Unima Council will meet on January 21 recommendations had to be made and other 15 PSU leaders had to be phoned for their input.

PSU vice president, Owen Patel, Financial Controller, Alexander Chigalu and Director of Clubs and Society, Tadala Sambakusi, were the only three PSU leaders who attended the meeting up to the end.

“Eleven PSU Council members recommended that there is need to give in to the Unima Council’s demands, five members were out of reach and two said they will comment later after thinking about it.

“Therefore, since majority rules in a democratic society, it was recommended to the Unima management that the case be withdrawn in court and college be opened not later than 30 January, 2017. It was also recommended to the college management to consider students in terms of fees payment and that no student must be withdrawn from college on financial grounds,” Nkhata said.

According to Nkhata, the parents’ representatives agreed to pay the proposed fees putting time into consideration.

Umsu, however, disputes the presence of “the so-called parents” at the meeting, arguing there is no such a thing as parents association in the structure of the University of Malawi statues.

Msiska said the Unima Council just needs to respect the court order instead of pushing students to agree to its illegal demands.

The students want authorities to implement old fees structure of K55 000 for government-sponsored and K250 000 for self-sponsored students instead of raising to K350,000 across the board for generic students and 950,000 and above for mature students.

High Court already favoured the students in October 2016 and favoured them again in December 2016 after the Unima council had appealed.

Last week, President Mutharika told the council to open The Polytechnic, which has been closed for about six months, and urged parents to recognise cost-sharing arrangement.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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