Nearly 105 people were arrested in yesterday’s protest by University of Zambia students triggered by the rise in the cost of leaving following President Michael Sata’s abrupt decision to remove subsidies on fuel and mealie meal.
However, police later discovered that of the 105 arrested only 25 were students while the rest were not part of the riots. Lusaka Province commissioner Joyce Kasosa made an official statement claiming only 31 were arrested when 105 were still being held and screened.
This was after President Sata publicly directed Kasosa to arrest protesting University of Zambia students over the government demanding the reversal of subsidies on fuels and maize subsidies.
The students were clad in black dubbed Black Friday as they demonstrated but when police came to disperse them, they set some room at the Great East Campus on fire, choked many with teargas in fierce running battles.
The shadow of United Party for National Development leader Hakainde Hichilema seemingly continued to haunt the President as he lay the student’s protests on the opposition
leader claiming he had funded them to cause instability.
President Sata, who was on one of his whirlwind foundation stone laying missions, called on Kasosa to move to the podium and stand next to education minister John Phiri as he instructed her to lock up all the protesting students.
“Where is Joyce Kasosa? You, come here. Stand next to that minister, we are not going to clear any institution but we are going to take care of those students who are creating trouble, arrest all of those and lock them up, those who are protesting against removal of subsidies,” Sata said.
Hundreds of police officers have been deployed at the Great East Road campus where the atmosphere remains tense with students not yet giving up on being heard despite the cops’ high handedness in dealing with the otherwise peaceful students.
Similar protests were held at the Copperbelt University in Kitwe and Mulungushi University in Kabwe. The protest at Mulungushi University turned violent on Friday night with gunshots heard during the riots.
The widespread increase in prices following government’s removal of subsidies have sparked anger among the citizenry that feel the Patriotic Front has back tracked on their promise to provide relief for the poor once in power.
Students mobilized themselves and attempted to march to State House but their move was met with force as police officers fired teargas near Arcades Shopping Mall disrupting business.