Certainly, the Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must) is one structure that attests to the visionary leadership of late president Bingu wa Mutharika. Here is an educational infrastructure that seems, in all respects, to promise an undrying well of intellectual water whose very physical shape announces of its academic importance and excellence
Now the future of Must seems to be in limbo if recent news in the local print and online media is anything to by. Mr Ron Mkomba, Chairman of Public Universities Working Committee (PUWC)--a committee which was set to oversee the construction of late Mutharika's six universities in the country, says that Must was supposed to be handed over to government in December last year. It is even doubtful if it will be handed by December this year given the financial woes rocking it.
Politically interestingly, one would ask if Must would have indeed been handed in December last were it that the brains behind it, late Bingu wa Mutharika were alive.
Tricky as the question is, one would not be wrong in arguing that it would have most certainly been handed in December. This would be the case given the fact that the late president would have gone to every imaginable limit making the worst of economic decisions just to see the project through.
However, it would be logically and economically absurd to accuse president Joyce Banda and her administration of deliberately choking the institution for fear of being seen to be towing the late president's vision and not articulating her own. Though, it would not be wrong in accusing the Joyce Banda administration of failure to give the project the serious attention it deserves.
Political side aside, there is real need for government and PUWC to work together towards sourcing funds for the project to see the light of day. Here, there is for PUWC to relook at how they see themselves and look at the project since the top has changed.
The Joyce Banda administration has to be given a pat on the back for having selflessly played a good part since the demise of late wa Mutharika.
However, the government needs to do more to help the nation in keeping its educational hope alive. For this reason, the government, through its knowledgeable leadership, should press every button to unlock the K25 billion preventing the opening of the university.
Much as we see the vision and passion for the project by PUWC, it seems PUWC is pessimistic as it is quoted to have made statements to the effect that they have no indication as to where the money to finish the project will come from. Such statements are, inevitable as they are perhaps given the circumstances, rather energy-sapping and, at most, a big mistake.
Additionally, government on its side has got to be the biggest hand since the opening of Must is surely a step forward in higher education circles and a welcome development in the education arena. Again, government can take the funeral of re-negotiating the soft loans, if possible, with the Chinese government or any like governments, so that the projected is finished in time and thus opens its doors to the ever-growing demand for university education.
To this end therefore, PUWC and government have got to be partners in identifying the funds for the project--all doing it with the national interest at heart. Unless collective and concerted efforts are made, and unless politics is left to be what it is--politics--should Malawians expect to see Must open soon.
Otherwise, politicking, dilly-dallying, and the façade of economic prudence in not coughing the K25billion needed for the final fittings and purchases of the project will only helping in flooding our streets with college-material youths who would otherwise have been agents of great gains in our economy and politics, thanks to the opening of Must and smooth-calendaring of the university education.
Yes, it will be commendable and politically realistic on the part of government if it includes Must in its programs for its speedy opening. Only when will the Joyce Banda government have given the nation quite another valid reason to keep it in power come 2014 since, by doing that, the Banda administration will have helped in keeping the educational hope of the nation alive, and that education hope is Must.