By Kennedy Kamba, PF Lusaka Province Youth Chairman.
His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu and his administration value education from nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary levels because it is fully persuaded that only an educated population can play a critical role in realizing the aspirations for a better Zambia. This commitment has been demonstrated by PF Government’s investment in the educational sector, including the recruiting of teaching personnel and massive investment in educational infrastructure, countrywide.
The clear intention of President Lungu and his Government is for institutions of learning to have uninterrupted academic calendars. But in the same regard, the student community equally has a duty to ensure that they prioritize existing avenues with the parent Ministry as opposed to reducing their grievances, no matter how genuine, into the levels of anarchy the country witnessed at UNZA and CBU the past few days. Nowhere in the world is it acceptable that students should bear weapons because we all know that the end result is loss of life and any responsible Government should act to prevent that. It is also criminal for anyone, including students to disarm a law enforcement officer and Zambians of goodwill must condemn such lawlessness.
Zambia cannot glorify lawlessness under the pretext of pleasing students at the expense of law and order. Nowhere in the world is the scenario of protesting students grabbing weapons from law enforcement officers tolerated. This is an abuse of democracy that politically motivated students bearing state weapons should be celebrated. We are a country of laws. Not even in the United States of America (USA) can glorify weapon-bearing students and we know that Ambassador Eric Schultz agrees with this position considering that he has been quite quick to condemn perceived wrongs from one end.
The Police have a duty to maintain public order and there is no glory in students throwing stones and damaging private property such as vehicles of the same taxpayers who sponsor their education. In any civilized society, there is always room for negotiations and lines of communication between President Lungu’s administration and the student community have always been open.
President Lungu has met student leaders on several instances and we are shocked that students chose not to exploit his extended olive branch and open-door policy. Without the closure, the situation could have led to loss of lives and extensive damage to private property and this must reflect the values of their sponsors in UPND.
Lastly, we wish to warn the Opposition UPND to stop funding confusion in higher institutions of learning. While this is an election year and it is in the interest of the Opposition to make, among others, UNZA and CBU ungovernable, we appeal to the Church, Civil Society Organizations and Members of the general public to condemn this politically-sponsored anarchy.
Weapon-bearing students created a slippery slope that could have degenerated into total disorder and loss of life. Had any life been lost in any of these institutions, it is the same Opposition and their friends at the Post Newspaper that would have turned around to pile the blame on President Lungu and his administration. The general student body must therefore refuse to be used by selfish and desperate politicians.
The few students being funded by the Opposition to trigger confusion cannot hold UNZA and CBU at ransom and neither will they be allowed to blackmail Government. Those who committed criminal acts such as disarming police officers must face consequences for their actions. We repeat that without the closure, the situation could have led to loss of lives and extensive damage to private property and this must reflect the values of their sponsors in UPND. It is only in Zambia that students bearing weapons can still be alive today.