GOVERNMENT will release K80 million to the University of Zambia (UNZA) between now and December to pay towards accrued staff benefits, a problem that has led to the academic staff to withhold examination results.
Education Minister Michael Kaingu said Government would release K50 million to UNZA towards the accrued staff benefits which has led to a stand-off between the members of the UNZA Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) and management.
But UNZALARU has demanded to be paid their accrued benefits for all university workers worth K320 million.
Dr Kaingu said at a Press briefing on Tuesday in Lusaka that Government among other short-term interventions would provide K50 million to UNZA towards accrued staff benefits.
“The ministry will make available the additional amount of K50 million to UNZA towards accrued staff benefits. This amount will be in equal monthly installments during the period September to December 2015,” Dr Kaingu said.
He said the Ministry of Education would continue to pay the commercial loan of K150 million which UNZA obtained in order to pay accrued staff benefits.
Government would pay K30 million by December this year.
Dr Kaingu also said Government would make available K10 million to the Copperbelt University towards accrued staff obligations which would be paid in equal monthly installments between September and December this year.
The minister said Government was hopeful that the move would convince UNZALARU members that Government was committed to resolving their problems and get them to release examination results.
Dr Kaingu said Zambian public universities had accrued debts over the years in order to pay staff emoluments.
This was because the grants were insufficient, the institutions had limited sources of income and unsustainable employee benefit schemes.
These debts have made it difficult for higher learning institutions to operate smoothly.
The universities have been unable to invest in academic facilities, repair deteriorated infrastructure resulting in low levels of morale among staff.
Dr Kaingu said the Ministry of Education has been working with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Public Service Management Division and the Ministry of Finance to find sustainable solutions to the debt.
UNZALARU president Eustone Chiputa who was at the Press briefing yesterday shared Government’s short term interventions with the members in the afternoon at a meeting.
Dr Chiputa said in an interview that the meeting went well and the members suggested that the union should meet management and the ministry to get further clarifications.
“The members have sent us to make a few more consultations to clarify the proposal after which we will meet and inform the Press of our decision,” he said.