Monday, March 14, 2011
By Edwin Mbulo, Christopher Miti and Kabanda Chulu
Mon 14 Mar. 2011, 04:01 CAT
POLICE in riot gear on Saturday pursued Patriotic Front youths into Lusaka town centre after they marched past Vice-President George Kunda chanting anti-government slogans during Youth Day celebrations.
And Eastern Province youths say they are not going to be used as tools for violence in the province. The PF youths chanted “we want change” slogans as they marched past the saluting dais where Vice-President Kunda and youth and sports minister Kenneth Chipungu were.
This happened after a fight allegedly ensued between PF and MMD youths near the Civic Centre.
After the march, PF youths did not remain to attend the rest of the programme and trotted towards town as a group of riot police officers teamed up to pursue them.
PF Lusaka Province vice youth chairperson Daniel Kalembe alleged that the MMD youths beat up PF cadres near the Civic Centre before the march, forcing them to seek refuge at the freedom statue where there was heavy police presence.
The MMD youths later gave both military and Zambia police officers problems as they became uncontrollable during the march past and kept running around the dais to rejoin their colleagues. Kalembe said the MMD cadres’ behaviour defied this year’s Youth Day theme; “Dialogue and mutual understanding”.
He said the MMD youths were armed with catapults.
“I have ordered the youths to get back to the PF secretariat because we don’t want to fight. We want peace. The MMD youths beat us up, they are armed with catapults and knives,” he said.
Kalembe pleaded for protection from senior police officers who had diverted the youths away from Independence Avenue to the southern side of the road.
And Vice-President Kunda said it was essential to uphold Zambia's peace and security. He said dialogue was a strong antidote where political prejudice and hatred were common.
“When political extremists and opportunists seek new recruits by inciting especially the youths, when politicians use division as a strategy to win elections, dialogue can be a strong antidote,” he said.
Vice-President Kunda said dialogue and mutual understanding enabled conflict prevention, conflict management and conflict resolution hence enhancing peace.
And a youth representative, Prosper Chifuwe, called on the MMD government to resolve the problems surrounding the constitutional making process which has resulted in deep rooted divisions.
And during Youth Day celebrations at David Kaunda Stadium in Chipata, the youths in a speech read by Alice Mwanza, a pupil at St Monicas Secondary School, urged fellow young people in political parties not to be used as tools of violence.
The youths said they would always engage in dialogue that would result in mutual understanding for meaningful and practical development to be achieved.
They also expressed disappointment with the way political leaders were fighting through the media.
“We therefore urge our leaders to dialogue with each other in order to achieve meaningful and mutual understanding on all the national development issues,” they stated.
And Eastern Province minister Isaac Banda said this year’s theme could not have come at a better time than now when Zambia was headed for elections.
Banda said national development could not be achieved without getting the youths on board.
And Kitwe's Riverside ward councillor Christopher Kang’ombe said Zambian youths should not shun Youth Day celebrations but use it as an opportunity to denounce the failed policies that are only benefiting those loyal to the ruling MMD.
And PF Kitwe youth chairman Chileshe Bweupe said it was difficult to celebrate Youth Day under the MMD government.
“There is need to address the tragic and sorrow situations which the youth is experiencing under the MMD which has allowed youths to wallow in abject poverty through unemployment,” said Bweupe.
“But we shall resolve these challenges when we come into government next year and we understand that the strength of our party is reflected in the increasing number of youths joining the PF unlike the MMD that hire street kids and parade them as party cadres.”
And Kitwe youths’ representative Annette Musonda said the youth would this year not vote for politicians that did not have an agenda for youths.