WHO ORGANISED UNZA RIOT?
...former students accuse invisible hand
There is this white canter, without a number plate that comes to dump some tyres at the bin near the entrance from VET. Each time it does that, in the evening there are always riots. The canter comes from Great East Road direction,” — Source.
Some disgruntled politician must be secretly sponsoring the perpetrators to cause more havoc, says former UNZASU president Antonio Mwanza
INFORMATION has emerged that each time there is a riot at the University of Zambia (UNZA), a white unregistered Canter delivers tyres which it dumps at the university’s dumpsite near the Kalingalinga entrance. These tyres are burnt to block the Great East Road. A source, who operates from within UNZA’s Great East campus premises said that he had witnessed the canter dumping tyres in the day twice and that each time, a riot erupts later in the night. The source revealed that even last Thursday, he saw the same Canter dumping tyres at the same spot and that the riot that erupted that evening made him suspicious. “There is this white canter, without a number plate that comes to dump some tyres at the bin near the entrance from VET. Each time it does that, in the evening there are always riots. The canter comes from Great East Road direction,” he said. Meanwhile, some former UNZASU leaders believe external forces instigated the University riots that led to the death of one student and left another critically injured. Former University of Zambia Student’s Union treasurer Johnstone Chikwanda has observed that external forces are causing challenges in the universities with some political party branches within the institution attempting to sponsor students into the student union executive. And former UNZASU president Antonio Mwanza, says an invisible hand instigated the recent riot at UNZA because the time for the students to receive their allowances was not yet due and University management had circulated a memo that payment would be made. Mr Chikwanda has since advised students to build good relationship with police through their respective union leaders and avoid being used by politicians to gain political interests. He said from the time memorial, the universities had a number of explosive episodes, saying there were many causes of students’ unrest at UNZA and CBU; some of which had nothing to do with meal allowances and student union leaders. Mr Chikwanda cautioned that while students could belong to political parties of their choice, political party branches within the institutions were not supposed to be established. “Talking from experience as a union leader and a student from UNZA, a demonstration can take place even when they have just been paid. For instance, what is happening in other unions at the university can always be expected to trigger student’s unrest, academic pressure from certain schools from the university can also ignite unrest. It takes a few students to ignite the whole campus. Students have at times embarked on demonstrations which student leaders did not even sanction at all,” he said. At the height of student activism, Mr Chikwanda said, students used to demonstrate in solidarity with what could be happening in another country among other local and international issues. There used to be big rallies and huge debates on great topics within the campus, but with a good understanding with the police. He explained that it was rare that the police could enter upon the university once students had retreated inside because it was a sort of understanding students had had with police. “Once students have retreated into their halls of residence, you cannot follow them and throw tear gas canisters into their bedrooms.” It was a rare situation, even with that, we hardly had incidences of police breaking doors to enter students rooms. Unlike some years ago, several senior police officers are now university graduates, so it is easier to engage with them and sustain an understanding of some sort to create boundaries within acceptable limits. We did it in our time; in fact it was like an old unwritten agreement that police should not enter into halls of residence with guns and tear gas canisters. So, current student leaders if they are in place are encouraged to have courtesy calls on Lusaka Province Police Commissioner and Copperbelt Province Commissioner from time to time as part of routine stakeholder engagement. It is tragic that we have lost someone in that manner,” he said. And Mr Mwanza said that from his experience as the former leader of the students union, the leaners would not riot before the meal allowances were delayed. He said there was still about two days remaining for the meal allowances to be due when students rioted last Thursday. Mr Mwanza, who is Patriotic Front (PF) deputy media director disclosed that the university management even circulated a memo the same day riots erupted, assuring the students that their allowances would be paid. He reiterated during an interview on ZNBC yesterday that owing to the fact that allowances were not delayed and UNZA management had communicated governments’ intentions, an inviable hand instigated the riot. Mr Mwanza said some disgruntled politician must be secretly sponsoring the perpetrators to cause more havoc. He blamed the lack of proper communication between the students, university and government as the reason for the continued riotous behavior at the institution of higher learning.
The two trucks the Scania from South Africa and the Freightliner (right), Zimbabwean registered where found laden with Mukula tree logs. Recent UNZA riots have been characterized by burning of tyres inside and off campus whose source the Daily Nation has learnt is a white canter truck without number plates, which offloads them at a dump site near the Vet school prior to each riot.
Former University of Zambia Student’s Union treasurer Johnstone Chikwanda.