2017 decision to delink UNIMA was done beyond University Council’s legal authority

Chancellor College in Zomba

* A Functional Review to be conducted to guide the way forward

* The 2017 decisions contravened sections 10 and 19 of the Act (Cap 30:02)

By Duncan Mlanjira

The decision to link the constituent colleges of the University of Malawi (UNIMA) made in 2017 was done beyond University Council’s legal authority (ultra vires), declares the 117th extraordinary meeting held virtually on Tuesday, January 20, 2021.

The Polytechnic in Blantyre

An internal memorandum from the University’s registrar to all the constituent colleges which Maravi Express has seen, says decision to delink UNIMA — the Chancellor College; College of Medicine, Kamuzu College of Nursing and the Polytechnic — was taken during the 102nd extraordinary meeting of the Council held on July 10, 2017 (minutes 96 and 97/2017).

College of Medicine in Blantyre

The University Council observes that the decision was not in line with the powers and functions that its two structures — Senate and Council — “were mandated to undertake under sections 10 and 19 of the Act (Cap 30:02)”.

“In view of the foregoing, Council at this sitting of the 117th Extraordinary meeting resolved to set aside the process of delinking the Constituent Colleges of the University of Malawi.

Kamuzu College of Nursing, Lilongwe campus

“Council, however, resolved that a Functional Review be conducted to guide Council on the way forward in addressing areas which require improvement and to embrace aspirations towards enhancing the efficiency of the University.

“Council therefore requests all Principals to convey this position to all staff accordingly,” says the statement.

During UNIMA’s graduation congregation in Zomba in November 2019, the then Chancellor, President Peter Mutharika said it was decided that each constituent college should become a university because the goal was to create more space and cultivate a culture of competitiveness among colleges.

Former UNIMA Chancellor, Peter Mutharika

He had said every college, once instated as a University, “must find its identity and place in the world”.

“It is not automatic that you become a University — earn your status,” he had said. “I have faith in the academics to deliver on the mission to create the best universities in Africa.”

He had also said there were instances that UNIMA had lost its mission to support the Government to solve Malawi’s problems but there has been a positive change.

Coronavirus alert

“There is growth,” he said. “Programs are finishing on time; there is decline in class boycott. Instead of confrontation, we are now discussing our differences and listening to one another.

“You have refused to be used by politicians to disrupt classes for their sake. Students have refused to be enticed by opposition politicians into their campaign of violence.

“The University should never allow evil to succeed by being silent over what is right [because] ‘In the face of evil, silence is complicity’. Let us stay on the path of peace.”

He also praised UNIMA for still standing in the test of time, saying it has done its best since its establishment in 1965.

Tomorrow’s webinar on COVID-19 vaccine