Malawi Leader Makes another U-Turn as Pressure Mounts

Mutharika under pressure from donors

In a public show of commitment to meet donor demands, Malawi’s President Mutharika yesterday reinstated the four lecturers he dismissed from the university of Malawi eight months ago over the academic freedom wrangle.

The decision comes after mounting pressure from activists and donors to gaurantee academic freedom in universities and reinstate the lecturers.  

“The four lecturers should be reinstated without any conditions. The President is gravely concerned with the indefinite closure of 8 months. He strongly feels that the right to education of student were greatly affected,” said the statement from the Office of the President and Cabinet.

The wrangle resulted into the closure of Chancellor College as students joined in support of their teachers.
“The President is guaranteeing academic freedom within the conditions of service of the University of Malawi. That Government has never and will never place spies in classrooms or within the campuses of University of Malawi.”

Finance Minister Ken Lipenga who leads a team of officials to the CABS review meeting in Lilongwe tomorrow cited the President’s decision as an indication of how committed government is to addressing concerns raised by key donors under the Common Approach to Budgetary Support.
Mutharika’s statement also said he was appointing a High Level Commission of Enquiry to come up with a common definition of Academic Freedom, the rights of students, and general conditions of service and review of the environment on how to improve teaching and learning at institutions of higher learning.

The change of heart comes barely a week after Mutharika made another U-turn over the expulsion of the British High Commissioner and Zambian President Michael Sata who were declared persona non grata.

Sata was declared a prohibited immigrant when he came to visit former President Bakili  Muluzi in  2007 when he was a Zambian opposition leader.

 The British envoy was expelled following a leaked cable which described Mutharika as becoming increasingly autocratic and intolerant to criticism.