he men and women that make up the Council of the University of Malawi never cease to amaze me. At a time when everyone thought the academic freedom struggle - that saw the shutting down of Chancellor College for a good eight months - was water under the bridge, here are these perfectly sane and learned people stirring up the waters again.
The academic freedom stand-off was allowed to last that long because Council members locked their brain in some locker and sub-let their thinking elsewhere. I mean, if Council was pro-active the saga could not have lasted a week. But instead of properly advising the Chancellor they allowed themselves to dance to his whims. I mean, not one but two court decisions dismissed assertions that the lecturers were on an illegal strike, or any strike for that matter. The court asserted that the lecturers were simply afraid to go to lecture-halls infested by spooks.
The decision to sack the union leadership made sense only to Council and perhaps their acerbic Chancellor. To show that Council stopped thinking independently it only allowed the college to re-open unconditionally when the late Chancellor acquiesced after students showed him that enough was enough and embarrassed him by booing him.
After the new Chancellor has gone out of her way to assure the academia and the student community of their unfettered academic freedom, from the blues comes the University Council to disturb the new peace. What’s Council's agenda? To embarrass the new Chancellor with another wave of academic freedom struggle?
Council deserves the K55m lawsuit because the whole eight-month academic freedom saga emanated from its inertia. I know Council and their late Chancellor came out of this with egg all over their face. But if Council does not like the calm that is returning to the university why not just quit other than re-opening the healing wounds on the part of both the lecturers and the students?