Zambian authorities had better brace themselves for a chain of anti-bad governance protests, following a hint to that effect, by young celebrities representing youths who want to see change in the way the country is run.
This week, they held a bush protest, which they broadcast live on Facebook, against what they describe as ‘Oppression’, by the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) government and foreign investors such as Chinese.
The protesters defied all prior threats by police, against assembling, saying they could not be silenced.
“Dr. Lungu and company, you can not use violence to rule people who have free minds. You sir and Kampyongo have written yourselves into history on the same page with the colonisers that sent our forefathers in the bush,” says Bornwell Mwewa, a supporter, in a message directed at Zambia’s President, Edgar Lungu, Home Affairs Minister, Stephen Kampyongo and other government officials.
The Root Cause
The artists and other like-minded youths are calling themselves ‘Disgruntled Youths’, as a form of clap back at Lusaka province Minister, Bowman Lusambo, who tagged them as such and called them other unsavoury names, in a fit of rage, after some of them took to social media to air the said grievances, last month.
He castigated them against such outspokenness, which resulted into them organising the protest.
The youths say, they want to be heard and see government intensify the fight against corruption, create decent job opportunities, have respect for the constitution and for human rights, as well as be accountable, among other demands.
“We have decided to protest from the bush, because the streets in our own country have become dangerous for young people to walk and protest… Because we wanted to express ourselves we’ve been told that our bones would be broken, we’ve been told that we will be met with the new equipment that was been acquired by the police, says hip hop recording artist, Fumba Chama, popularly known as ‘Pilato’.
Chama adds that young people will not cower down, non-the-less.
“We’ve refused to be scared, we’ve refused to be intimidated by those that we’ve given power to govern and manage our resources and our affairs. We are here because we’ve refused to be cowards we’ve refused to give up on a country that we love. We’ve refused as young people to give up on mother Zambia.”
Government targets critics
The government have developed a habit of labelling people who want them to account for national resources, as anarchists, according to Motivational Speaker, Mubita Nawa, also a protester.
“I live in one of the richest countries in the world. We have Gold, we have Copper, we have Emeralds and we have 18 million wonderful people, each one of them with 206 bones and every one of these bones have been threatened to be broken by law makers…
If I ask questions, can we share the mineral wealth of Zambia, I’ am an Anarchist… I say today we need to put our country first, we need our leaders to hear us!” Nawa proclaims.
For Singer and Song Writer, Wezi Mhone, known simply as ‘Wezi’, government needs to address citizens over the police brutality, which has in the past resulted into deaths of innocent people.
This includes the gunning down of a 13 year old boy, Frank Mugala, at his school gate, on February 13, this year, by police, who were said to be trying to disperse a riot against gas crimes that had rocked the country at the time.
Another incident involved a final (4th) year university student, Vespers Shimuzhila, in 2018, who suffocated to death, after police officers allegedly threw teargas canisters in her room, which caused a fire, while keeping vigil of the university premises, following a protest the previous evening, by students, over delays in payment of their meal and accommodation allowances.
Shimuzhila was believed to be asthmatic and failed to escape the smoke.
“If my life matters, if the lives of the people that are leading us matter, if we can have masks and hand sanitiser because we want to stay healthy and alive, what about Frank, Vespers, Evans Simusa and every victim, whose death we’ve ignored?
The teargas canisters to non-rioting students, a stray bullet to an unarmed 13 year old boy! So please do not accuse us [of] trying to cause unrest, do not accuse us [of] trying to cause anarchy, confusion or treason. We are just here because we are hurt that our fellow youths are dying…And nothing has been done.
We’ve watched our own being killed and nobody is addressing us about that. Where are our leaders? Talk to me about Frank, talk to me about Vespers. What went wrong, what can we do right as the youth, to protect us from these things?” a highly emotional Wezi, inquired, shortly before she broke down and cried.
More protests to take place
The protest planners have since indicated that follow-up protests will be organised on a monthly basis, until these issues are addressed.
“This is not the last, this is just the start of so many protests and so many engagements that we are starting as young people, we are not going to rest, we are not stopping, we will not be intimidated.
I know some of us will be arrested, but you know what, we are bigger than our bodies. We will be detained and still when we come out we’ll do this again! Zambia deserves a fight and we are ready to give it!” Chama (Pilato), who has several times been detained in the past, for similar activities, concluded.