Angered by the un-sanctioned and strange protests by a cross section of pupils who in the commercial city of Blantyre also targeted the Joyce Banda Foundation (JBF), Malawi president Dr. Joyce Banda has threatened that she will let the institution to close down. The president’s sentiments come in the wake of the bold and un imaginable stride taken by some pupils around the JBF in Chimwankhunda, Wednesday February 20 that forced the institution to suspend business the next day for fear of a repeat.
“I do not understand why some pupils should be traumatised for things that do not concern them. If I get an indication that by having children at Joyce Banda Foundation, they can stand the danger of being assaulted I should be very much touched. “It is also dangerous to both JBF scholars and the pupils that were sent to do the protests because either could be involved in road traffic or other accidents,” the Malawi leader lamented at a Sanjika palace press conference. Some pupils ganged up to force teachers at JBF not to teach as was the case with their counterparts in the public service who had joined their striking civil servants colleagues in their fight for pay hike. The pupils were not amused that they were losing out yet those at JBF were enjoying their right to education, when the president, whom they said is the patron could do something to end the strike.
It had to take the response of a battalion of the reformed Malawi police service, who thronged to the school from all corners of Blantyre policing district to quell the surprise rising by 10 to 12 year olds and come Thursday there was no business at JBF serve for the presence of the law enforcers with some camping in the nearby hill to check the situation.
Interestingly, the on this day it was pupils from the other side of the commercial city of Blantyre- Ndirande, Kachere, HHI among others, who ganged up trekking to the president’s palace who was away in Equatorial Guinea. They were however stopped along the tracks by the alert police who were along the independence drive, road leading to the palace. But still more left some marks in the Blantyre central business district before withdrawing ‘under pressure’. Although the president has indicated that she has instructed the family to close down the school in the interest of protecting the children since at JBF it is being targeted by political louts, the school’s managing director, Roy Kachale, has assured parents and guardians that business will resume at Joyce Banda Foundation come Monday morning.
The president condemned organizers of the protest for lacking moral judgment by parading very young children in the streets where they were exposed to danger adding if JBF closes it is teachers and students that would suffer, otherwise in her case, she would just channel some of the resources from the Chimwankhunda JBF to elsewhere within the charitable work she does in the country. A February 23 2013 Joyce Banda Foundation press release that NewstimeAfrica has seen reads in part: “Joyce Banda Foundation would like to inform all parents, guardians and students that, the normal class schedule will resume on Monday, 25th February 2013. “All students are, therefore, requested to report for classes at the normal set times.” The notice is dated 22nd February, 2013 and signed by managing Director Roy Kachale.
The president revealed that she also made similar move sometime back because a former president, whom she did not name, was contemplating to close down the school on political grounds, but the decision was over turned by other family members. For the past fortnight Malawi was rocked in a pay rise battle between the civil servants and the government which saw the former opting for strike to force the employer to listen to their plea.On Thursday night the two warring parties reached a compromise and the strike was called off the next morning.
The Malawi government says it will review the salary structure for civil servants effective January 1, 2013 but implemented in March 2013with arrears paid in July, 2013. Lowly paid will get a 67 percent while highly pay a 5 percent adjustment. On the strike, the state president took it positively, saying she understood the concerns and that is why she had ordered that funds be sourced from within the government coffers to cater for that cause.
“As far as I am concerned the civil servants operated within the law. But I am aware that there were some external forces that tried to take advantage of the situation,” she did not hid her observation.
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