Solwezi MP recounts Matero violence

By Lucky Mulusa, MP

Friday, the 31 May 2013 was one of those nice warm-to-cool days you would want to thank the Lord for before you started your daily activities. The consortium of NGOs had decided to have a prayer meeting at BIGOCA church in Matero in place of the cancelled public rally for which a police permit had been denied.

Appropriately dressed for the occasion, we proceeded to the prayer meeting venue with a colleague. On arrival, we found very few people and members of the press. This will be a flop – concluded my thought processes. But then, I thought further, Zambians are passive by nature and that is why we seem to be so gullible and easily manipulated, concluded an inner dialogue between my physical self and my soul.  We proceeded inside for the sermon after giving a couple of interviews to the press regarding the KCM labour issue. Bishop Ndlovu the overseer of the Church gave a sermon even the PF government would have been happy with. He prayed for the leadership of the country and dedicated the nation to the Lord for the continued love He has shown the Zambian people. He proudly declared that no place on earth was better than our beloved Zambia and he made a passionate request to all of us gathered to speak positively about our nation wherever we were – whether at home or abroad. We agreed in unison and there was an air of sense of national pride in Church.

Time came for the spokesperson of the consortium of NGOs to give his speech. Before he could finish explaining the purpose of the prayer meeting, a group of inebriated youngsters none of them appearing to be any older than twenty years old trooped in using the two main entrances of the Church. A quick check showed that they did not have decent clothes on them and a number of them were not even wearing shoes. They were obviously products of distortions in the economy – perfect outcomes of rich nation poor citizens scenario for which that particular event was meant to contribute to a solution for their plight. One other thing about them pointed to a sponsor behind their mission – the majority of them were armed with clean and freshly made pick axe handles. The cost of those handles could have dressed the youths more decently from a salaula stall. Obviously, the supplier of the handles had run out of stock and so the rest had to make do with whips and all sorts of hastily arranged weaponry.

We all pretended to ignore them as the camera men trailed their cameras towards the source of what would be breaking news for the occasion. This did not please the youths at all and they issued orders that the prayer meeting ceased forthwith. One of them alerted the group to the ZANIS cameraman who was filming their entry into the Church. Having been ignored, especially that the congregation had remained transfixed to their chairs hoping the youths would, for the fear of the Lord, change their minds and walk away, they found the cameraman an easy target to set an example to all and for them to pump their adrenaline beyond levels achieved by alcohol and whatever else they had consumed. The beating up of the cameraman gave them some new sense of achievement of their mandate. And because there was no retaliation, they picked up courage to hit anyone in sight who seemed to recoil at their advance.

By this time everybody in Church was upstanding with many slowly heading for the doors. This further gave them some sense of superiority and they increased the number of targets both in Church and outside. As Bishop John Mambo attempted to open the door of his car, he was hit with a pick axe handle on the shoulders and he fell down. They hit and kicked him all over the body before descending on more victims.

Bishop Ndlovu and I remained in the Church deep in thoughts without uttering a word to each other for several minutes. When commotion calmed down, I bid him farewell and proceeded to leave. Before exiting the Church, I noticed one smartly dressed young man, who had earlier been one of the masters of ceremonies. He looked around, took off his glasses and broke down in tears. I stopped to check if he had been hurt. “He was not touched”, someone volunteered an unsolicited explanation. His body was shaking with rage – a natural way to expel anger, and in between sobs, he exclaimed, “Lord, why must this happen in my beloved Zambia! No this is too much … there has to be a stop to this …No it has to stop!” I left the Church and proceeded to escort Bishop Mambo to Matero police station.

As I drove away, my thoughts went back to the young man’s cries. Obviously, the intruders are misfits in society. They cannot even be described as PF cadres. These could be the same ones that harassed Major Kachingwe on behalf of some MMD member/s and most probably another branch of them harassed Bowman Lusambo as well on behalf of some PF member/s. They can be organised for a price of a tin of chibuku (opaque beer). They are scoundrels for hire. In a military setup, cadres are a group of experienced professionals at the core of a military organization who are able to train new recruits and expand the operations of the unit. In politics, cadres are political activists or revolutionaries and they are the controlling or representative group at the centre of an organisation. Those youngsters possessed none of those qualities.

There are dangerous dimensions to the young man’s cries in Church. He was one of the two masters of ceremonies – meaning that he had potent energy that he had turned into creative energy for the good of his mother Zambia. When he cried, I noticed an instant transformation of that same creative and positive energy into anger. Energy and anger amongst the youths in a nation is worse than the worst nuclear weapon imaginable. When combined with frustration the spark will create a spontaneous national revolution that can wipe out governments across regions in a matter of days. For those that think that they possess absolute power they can misuse anyhow, they should learn from the Middle East where regime changes took place in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Yemen sparked by creative energy inadvertently turned into anger and frustration in an individual youth in Tunisia.

A revolution such as the Arab spring is a possibility anywhere any time.

Do not say, you were never warned.

Lucky Mulusa, MP.

Solwezi Central.

June 2013.

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