The Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) has keenly followed developments unfolding in the country, following an impasse that started about three months ago following disagreements between the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Peter Mukhito, and Chancellor College lecturers, leading to the indefinite closure of Chancellor College and Malawi Polytechnic. The impasse started after one of the associate professors at Chancellor College, Blessings Chinsinga, was summoned by the IG to explain his position following an example he gave in class. The move was seen as a violation of academic freedom and the concerned lecturers went on strike, demanding an apology and an assurance that academic freedom will be guaranteed. As an umbrella body of 27 Protestant Member Churches and 20 Para‐church institutions, our mandate is to facilitate human transformation following the image of Christ, promoting holistic development, and fostering unity, peace, justice and love among the human race. In this respect, the Council provides the witness and testimony to the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nation and offers a collective approach that serves as the voice of the Church on national and international issues.
2. Academic Freedom Guaranteed
The Malawi Council of Churches would therefore like to commend Government, and in particular the State President Bingu wa Mutharika as Chancellor, for guaranteeing the striking lecturers their academic freedom, and promising to find a win‐win situation where there will be no casualties on both sides. It is indeed high time that the two colleges reopen and classes resume come 4th July 2011.
This bold move shows that the President has taken heed of the lecturers’ demands, and therefore we are hopeful the positive ground laid down by the President provides for an opportunity for all parties involved to do their best and cover up on lost time. We regret that the three months‐long plus closure caused suffering amongst stakeholders when it could have been avoided all together had reason and tolerance prevailed.
Throughout the impasse, the Malawi Council of Churches was engaged in prayers so that all stakeholders would reunite towards the reopening of the two colleges. We understand that higher education is prerequisite to national development. We therefore continue to call upon all our church members, the entire faith community, and all Malawians to join us in prayer so that the lecturers and students go back to class and all stakeholders take full responsibility in ensuring that all the processes that bring hindrance to the matter are removed.
4. Call for Unity and a New Beginning
We take trust that Government through the Chancellor, the University Council, and on the other hand the lecturers and students will all work towards a reconciled new beginning. We are also mindful that both local and international instruments recognize and emphasize the need for freedoms, including academic freedom so that the learning and teaching process is free of any intimidation and hindrance and that a nation attains full economic development through higher education. Malawi Council of Churches therefore asks all stakeholders, including parents, to encourage their children to go back to school in time. We also call on Government to stand by its words and jealously safeguard academic freedom. The lecturers are also asked to invigorate their effort in the delivery of quality education in the country. Stakeholders and all Malawians must work to ensure that the education process in Malawi is not disturbed at all levels and that Government shall put every effort to provide for quality education in the country. We pray that we shall all move with a unified new beginning for the benefit of our country.
Rev. Dr. Osborne Joda‐Mbewe