Monday, May 20, 2013

Govt won't close any learning institution over protests - Sata
By Moses Kuwema, Tilyenji Mwanza, Kombe Chimpinde, Misheck Wan
Sat 18 May 2013, 14:01 CAT

PRESIDENT Michael Sata says the government will not close any learning institution arising from protests by students.

UNZA students and police yesterday fought running battles after police thwarted their march to State House to air their grievances over the removal of fuel and maize subsidies.

And UNZA management has warned that it will expel any student who is found wanting.

Meanwhile, eight students were picked up over the demonstration.
But Cavendish University students' guild president John Luneta condemned the attempt by UNZA students to march to State House and stressed that they should seek other channels of dialogue.

Speaking in Chongwe yesterday when he laid a foundation stone for the construction of Palabana University, President Sata appealed to Zambians to trust the government.

He directed education minister Dr John Phiri and Lusaka Province Police commissioner Joyce Kasosa to expel and arrest the students whom he said have been paid by the opposition to cause trouble.

He said the government would not close any institution of learning.
"…But we are going to look after those trouble-makers, and you madam Kasosa, arrest them and lock them up. Today some opposition, Mr HH, he takes money, he buys some students, typical of him. Those boys start making troubles at Arcades and Copperbelt. Identify them, expel them from school and hand them over to the police," he said.

President Sata explained that constructing five universities costs K250 billion and that the government was spending K1.1 trillion on subsidies.

"We are very much aware that Zambians sacrificed a lot during the privatisation programme. I am appealing to you to trust us because this government's priority is to ensure that we distribute resources equitably. It is immoral for us to subsidise fuel while our rural areas do not have schools and hospitals," he said.

President Sata said maintaining the subsidies would result in poor teachers being robbed to feed a few rich people who own vehicles.
"Some fake pastor in UBZ UCZ Church says we are removing subsidy because of the by-election, does she read the Constitution? In the Constitution, there are elections and by-elections. In Zambia, we have freedom of movement and association. Therefore, we are not going to change the Constitution to suit one disgruntled church woman," he said.

And President Sata said the current universities could not absorb all the pupils in the country.

"This is the second university we are launching in Chongwe district. All the provinces are going to benefit a university, one or two. The current universities cannot absorb all the pupils. And because of the scarcity of space at the university, we have some of our educated people who have left Zambia to go and work outside and the children are only getting access through corruption," he said.

President Sata said it was the duty of the government to have all children accessing education without having to corrupt anybody.
He said the construction of the university would result in a lot of development in Chongwe and would help realise the PF's slogan of more money in pockets.

President Sata asked Dr Phiri to bring back Zambian professionals who were in the Diaspora to teach the children.

President Sata also said the tender for the tarring of the Palabana-Luangwa road would be closed at the end of this month.
And Wynter Kabimba appealed to Zambians to rally behind the PF as the only party that would develop the country.

"The climax of the PF performance in the last two years has been evident in the last two months. These achievements are in conformity with our party manifesto," said Kabimba.

And Dr Phiri said there were machinations by a few individuals to use students to cause trouble.

He warned students not to be used to cause disorder in the country.
"We send our children to school to gain knowledge and not be agitators of nonsense. We pray that Palabana University will be a different university," he said.

Dr Phiri said the university would provide solutions to the many livestock problems that people were faced with.

Meanwhile, Senior Chieftainess Nkomeshya of the Soli people said President Sata would need more time to mobilise resources for development and that he could not do that in 90 days.

"Where other people are not grateful for what you are doing, us we are grateful. The people of Zambia need you. I am humbled for what you are doing for people of Zambia and us here in Lusaka," said chieftainess Nkomeshya.

The university will be constructed by Datong Construction Limited.
Meanwhile, protesting students, who declared yesterday as 'Black Friday' and boycotted class, wore black and mobilised themselves as early as 09:00 hours.

Some of the students openly denounced the government over the removal of subsidies while others sang Petersen and Pilato's new single - Bufi.
"We are not breaking any cars or disrupting anything. All we want is to state our grievance. We are the voice of the voiceless," said UNZASU secretary general Mwauluka Sishekanu.

Some of the placards read: 'Voice of the voiceless, bwesha subsidy', 'voice of the voiceless mourning for our beloved country,' and the students were egged on by some motorists, who honked, seemingly in appreciation.

The students marched on Great East Road but were met by riot police near Mulungushi International Conference Centre.

The students fled after police fired teargas at them. Some shop owners at Arcades Shopping Mall, fearing looting by he students, closed their premises.

The protesting students however regrouped and took the police on, throwing a barrage of stones while shouting 'buju no violence',
Some of the students complained that there were too many deputy ministers, who were getting many allowances in the current government at the expense of development.

The students claimed the removal of the subsidies had been done in a dictatorial manner without much consultation.

They complained that the justification that the removal of subsidies would have long-term benefits in the near future was not sufficient because the short-term effect was detrimental.

"How do you let your children sleep with hunger today so that they can eat next week? Even those universities and roads they claim they will build, who will use them because we will all die from hunger today," said Michael Muyemba, a 4th year student.

"We are here because it is our duty to speak for that mother in Shang'ombo, that poor father of Kalingalinga we are the voice of the voiceless."

By late afternoon, police had closed off some of the roads leading to State House and those leading to Mutendere and Kalingalinga.

Similar protests were reported at Mulungushi University in Kabwe.
And University Registrar Dr Kavwanga Yambayamba advised students to use peaceful channels to air their grievances without disrupting normal academic functions.

"Management wishes to warn all students that we shall not hesitate to expel anyone found wanting. We therefore appeal to all students to focus on their academic programmes."

Meanwhile, Luneta condemned the attempt by UNZA students to march to State House and air their grievances.

"We are disappointed with our compatriots that they always seem to resort to violence in order to put their point across. It's not fair that innocent people should suffer whenever the students have grievances. I think there is need to dialogue," said Luneta.

And Copperbelt University Students yesterday boycotted classes and marched from campus to Kitwe's Riverside Jambo Drive in protest against government's removal of subsidies on fuel and maize sold to millers.
The students that were clad in black as part of what they called 'black Friday' protests, repeatedly chanted slogans "without fuel subsidy, we won't go to class."

They demanded that President Sata reverses the decision to remove subsidies on what they called critical areas of the economy, energy and agriculture.

Police in riot gear arrived at CBU around midday in an attempt to prevent students from blocking Jambo Drive.

Earlier, when students convened at their centre within campus, Copperbelt University Students Union president Oscar Mbewe said the removal of fuel and maize subsidies by the government was an untimely move that would be detrimental to the economy.

"The students, those we call monk police, went round door to door, mobilised students and the class boycott has taken effect. As COBUSU we realised that this is a national issue. We are an energetic force in whom the future destiny of our parents, the nation and the economy depend on. We have an obligation to stand up and speak on social, political and economic injustices and on issues affecting our country.

The issue today is to let the government know about our grievances over its unpopular decision to remove these subsidies," he said.

Mbewe said technocrats advising President Sata were aware about the principles in economics on the knock-over effects and the spillover effects and the harm such changes in petroleum prices would have on the economy.

Mbewe said the rise in fuel pump prices due to the removal of fuel subsidies and the removal of maize subsidy on millers meant that there would be a triple spillover effect and it would be the majority poor that would suffer once the price of a single bag of mealie-meal goes up on the market.

But mines deputy minister Richard Musukwa yesterday said students should not be political and they were expected to reason with the government as intellectuals over the removal of fuel and maize subsidies.

Musukwa, who is Wusakile member of parliament, said President Sata had made it clear that the removal of such subsidies would create economic equality as huge sums of money that will be saved from subsidizing elite and already rich millers and industries would be channeled towards tangible national developmental projects.

"The last people we should see on the streets for wrong reasons are university students because these are the people that have had the pain of suffering because of lack of adequate bursaries, university space in terms of accommodation and lack of finance to run such schools and the government is working hard to attend to their plight. We remain committed, as PF, to engage Zambians across all political divide on the measures that we have taken. Cheap copy and paste type of political measures such as black Friday by students are long gone and they are misplaced," said Musukwa.

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