Armed Police have moved into University of Zambia Great East Road campus beating students and anyone within the premises. Some dormitories have been set ablaze as police and students fought running battles.
Police surrounded UNZA around 14 hours local time after ailing dictator Michael Sata has ordered the expulsion of students from higher learning institutions who have opposed the increase in fuel and mealie meal prices due removal of subsidies.
‘We have run away from campus as police are now just beating up anyone including lecturers and workers. Some building have been set on fire and we think there will be casualties’, said a retreating student.
‘I am a UNZA student and as I speak now the police are inside the university firing teargas canisters. Two ladies have already fainted
and rushed to UNZA clinic. what has surprised me is what the police are thinking. I do not know where they want the students to go.
Because if they fire teargas canisters in our rooms I do not know what they expect from students. it is a very un civilised way of handling
matters. Right now am being choked in the hostel where I am,’ another student explained.
And Mr. Sata lambasted Council of Churches Secretary General Secretary, Sussane Matale, who this week said money saved from subsidies was going to PF induced by-elections for also opposing the removal subsidies.
Students from Copperbelt University, Mulungushi University, and University of Zambia having protesting the removal of subsidies because they will affect the poor.
But in contrast, Mr. Sata and his economists have argued that increase in fuel and mealie meal prices only affect the few rich people and not the majority of poor Zambians.
Sata has since accused UPND president Hakainde Hichilema of having paid all the students in the higher learning institutions to protest against the PF government to go against the elections promises of reduced prices for commodities.
Mr. Sata also ordered the arrest of students who were protesting against the move when went to lay a foundation stone in Chongwe’s Palabana area for what he calls another university.
But the students from the three universities have vowed to continue their protests until government rescinds it decision to remove the subsidies which have been part of this country for the past 20 years now.
In Lusaka, UNZA students and police were in running battles at Arcades where they were teargassed on their way to State House and town center.
Hundreds of Lusaka residents, mainly in black attire, also joined the student protest at Arcades where police had a tough time controlling the riotous mob.
Mr. Sata has so far given free fuel to Malawi and has just given maize to fellow dictator Zimbabwean president Robbert Mugabe who he has told not to be in a Hurry to pay for the 150,000 tonnes. See story in Zimbabwean media here.
The last time food riots were experienced was 22 years ago in the Kenneth Kaunda communist party in which Sata was a senior figure.
The University of Zambia has not been shut due to political or economic instability from the time of Fredrick Chiluba. Sata was number three in the Chiluba regime. Late president Levy Mwanawasa vowed that UNZA would never be closed as long as he remained leader of Zambia. He kept the promise until his death. His successor Rupiah Banda carried on this pledge and for the three years he ruled Zambia, students at UNZA graduated without interruption.