Remarks by the Chairperson of the Caretaker Committee of Council at the launch of the UNZA industrial printer – 2nd April, 2019

I welcome you all this morning to the University of Zambia.

Hon Minister, this is the second opportunity I am privileged to be associated with in the work we have been doing to turn around the University of Zambia and promote income generation.

The first opportunity I had, to be part of a launch of new revenue for UNZA, was in august 2015 when we launched the graduate school of business at the intercontinental hotel. While the school may have some challenges, it has, on the whole, been a success story for UNZA. The new revenue from the graduate school of business averages ten million kwacha per annum.  I wish to commend management and staff for this achievement.

While we appreciate the fact that we need to intensify our efforts to become self-sustaining, government must not abrogate its responsibility to invest more in education – both general education and higher education. Most of us are where we are today because our parents and our founding mothers and fathers made a sacrifice and invested in our education.  Posterity will judge us harshly if we do not prioritise investment in education.

Hon. Minister, I am proud to state that we have a wealth of knowledge at the University of Zambia and it is important that we continuously motivate our staff, encourage a positive mind-set and promote a paradigm shift.  For the lecturers and staff, we appreciate your work and will do our best to ensure that we meet our obligations as an employer. However, let us dialogue more and also follow laid down procedures for airing grievances.  It will not help us to down tools each time we have a grievance.   

As the caretaker committee, it is our priority that learning and productivity are not disturbed.  Our primary interest is to ensure that UNZA continues to contribute to national development through provision of quality learning, research and knowledge generation.

Our interest is to look critically at the business model, the staffing structure, the work culture, debt dismantling and securing a sufficient grant from government and in good time.  The delays in disbursements of funds have contributed to an environment at the University of Zambia that is not conducive for productivity.  i wish to take this opportunity to appeal to the government to tap into the expertise that exists at the University of Zambia, collaborate more and work together to find lasting solutions to UNZA’s financial challenges.  The recent negative statements in the media about our wonderful institution, are not healthy for the institution and the nation in general and have the potential to negatively affect our relations with various stakeholders, including those who support us financially.  The University of Zambia is striving, amidst enormous challenges, to rise above these hurdles and continue to make a mark in the nation’s development but certain sentiments can slow down this progress.

While we expect support from government as a public university, let me also encourage management and staff to move from a culture of dependency to striving for financial independence.  The fact that we are launching this printing press today, is a demonstration that actually we have the potential and capability to raise revenue.  It cannot happen overnight but we can accelerate our efforts to get to self-sustainability.  This will require a certain level of autonomy and let me take this opportunity, therefore, to appeal to the government to allow the University of Zambia to exercise a certain level of autonomy.  It is possible to commercialise a good portion of our education provision and still provide opportunities for vulnerable students so that there is access to education for all.

In the new business model, schools that are not breaking even will have to be re-organised. In the new business model, we will expand online learning and other modes of delivery because this university needs 45,000 students to break–even. the work culture change we aspire for is to wake-up to an era one day soon - where every worker will make student recruitment, student support and student progression the core of their work.

The survival of UNZA requires that we grow our student numbers using optimal staffing levels and delivering market driven programmes with an outstanding level of service and remain relevant to industry.

Hon Minister, in 2019 we have purposed that you come back here yet again to roll out more business ventures.

In the remodeling of income generation which we have developed, we intend in 2019 to have the following business ventures launched:

  • the UNZA printer which we are rolling out today;
  • the mechanical workshop soon to be launched;
  • the UNZA road tolling and parking system;
  • the veterinary clinic
  • the UNZA bottled water
  • and indeed the e-campus.

You may wish to know that we have setup a private entity called UNZA investment holdings. This entity will help us implement our commercial activities on purely business lines.

Hon Minister, as you launch the UNZA printer this morning therefore, i assure you that for UNZA, it is no longer business as usual. As caretaker committee, we will on behalf of government and other stakeholders ensure that this investment does not become a vehicle for free printing services and unaccounted for printing jobs.

I know of companies out there that have become multi-million kwacha businesses out of an investment in printing equipment similar to the size we have here to today.

Therefore, I see no reason why we will not address a significant proportion of the university revenue requirements using the new UNZA printer. I therefore challenge management to ensure that this investment becomes yet another success story for UNZA and the nation.

I thank you,

MS Namucana Musiwa