Police and students were involved in violent confrontations which made police to fire teargas canisters to force students back into campus from the Great East Road which they briefly blocked and disrupted traffic.
But the teargas was unable, for some time, to stop the charging students who marched onto the road as they chanted anti-police slogans and retaliated with stones, planks and tree branches.
Heavy traffic mounted on both the northern and southern parts of the road as motorists were diverted into alternative routes to avoid the stone-throwing students.
The students blocked the entrance to the main campus with tree branches and stones to deny police vehicles entry.
Later five students escaped a police cordon by diving into the Goma Lakes.
But the desperate students in the semi-stagnant Goma Lakes waters were rescued by a violent mob of students that charged at the police with stones and sticks, forcing them to retreat.
The law enforcers had to fire shots in the air to disperse the riotous students who kept on going onto the road.
Overstretched police officers who appeared to have run out of teargas watched from a distance as the students jeered at them and charged towards the road.
Earlier, Lusaka division commanding officer, Wasakaza Ng’uni, who led the police operation told journalists that his men were prepared to face the students head-on if they dared go to the road.
“We are prepared to face the students head-on and we will discipline them in such a way that they will not attempt to misbehave again,” Mr Ng’uni warned.
Mr Ng’uni said a car belonging to a student had its windscreen shattered by fellow students.
“No public vehicle has been damaged, but since the vehicle whose windscreen was shattered belongs to a student, they will sort it out amongst themselves,” Mr Ng’uni said.
However, minutes after Mr Ng’uni talked to the journalists, a bus believed to belong to Green Buffaloes Football Club had its rear window shattered by the students.
Times of Zambia reporter, Sylvia Mweetwa, also had her skirt torn by the violent students.
UNZA Studentsâ€™ Union, (UNZASU), president, Sage Samuwika, accused the police of trying to provoke the situation.
Mr Samuwika said he was sad that demonstrations were becoming part of the university calendar and that this was not helping with the image-building and restoration programme that UNZASU had embarked on.
“You can’t blame the students because they have run out of patience.
They don’t want this institution to be closed because they are the ones who will lose out,” Mr Samuwika said.
He, however, said it was disappointing that Government had remained mute on the way forward in the impasse at the university.
Munali member of Parliament, Mumbi Phiri, appealed to the students not to be used as scapegoats for Government’s failure to find a Vice-Chancellor for the institution.
She said students should not engage in riotous behaviour because Government would blame them if the institution was closed.
Ms Phiri said that eight students were currently in police custody and that as a parent, she would not want her children to be subjected to conditions that prevailed in police cells.
“I have so far visited three police posts, and there is one student at Bennie Mwiinga police station, three at Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe and five at Chelstone,” she said.
She appealed to Minister of Education, Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa, to make a statement on the situation at UNZA because it was not in order for him to keep quiet when there was confusion at the country’s highest institution of learning.
Meanwhile, UNZA Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) secretary, Fenson Mwape, said the lecturers’ position had not changed.
“The go-slow is still on and the sad thing is that today we were not able to enter campus and meet because of the impasse between students and the police,” Dr Mwape said.
And the alumni Association of UNZA urged Government to quickly intervene in the disturbances at the institution.
Association secretary-general, Rose Tembo, said in a statement that the situation needed to be solved as quickly as possible to uphold the credibility and international standing of the university.
And UNZA acting chairperson, Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula, in a statement last evening appealed to UNZALARU members to resume work to allow the technical committee proposed to handle the matter complete its assignment.
She said this would enable the bargaining process to proceed in accordance with laid down procedures.
She also appealed to students to refrain from disturbances.
She said disturbances would only act as an impediment to the speedy resolution of the situation.
She said Government’s allocation for personal emoluments in the 2007 subvention to UNZA was 18 per cent below the required level of current staff remuneration.
“However, to cushion staff against the increase in the cost of living, the university council directed management to remove some activities planned for 2007,” Dr Kankasa-Mabula said.
“This resulted in cuts to various budget lines which will result in significant reductions to key services in the operations of the university this year,” she said.