Students vs Government (Part 2)

“Riot has never worked on our side, if you can recall well, most riots have resulted into some students being expelled from the University and some being removed from government sponsorship, “exclaimed ZANASU President.
Speaking in parliament, Bahati Member of Parliament Garry Nkombo asked the minister of higher education as to why such a population could be left without representatives, to speak both for the government and students.
“They have no mouthpiece to and from the government to give them tangible information. How can you ban the Students Union and expect students to behave?” said Nkombo
Riots started a long time ago and they are part of the well-meaning society and higher learning institutions both local and international either with or without representatives.
Of course it can be concluded that expectations did not go as planned because the act resulted to the death of fellow student a situation deemed as “stronger than a storm”
The most bizarre scenarios of that kind, the loss of a young and vibrant innocent soul, (Vespers Shimuzhila) a fourth year student in School of Education.

Vespers Shimuzhila posing in University Campus room hours before her fateful death. Image by Vespers(Facebook)

The loss of the young woman caused her parents pain after high expectations from their child who was just three months way from long waited moments of graduation for nothing.

Some elderly people say “whoever educates a female child has educated a country” meaning Education is the key for women to achieve economic independence. Although women in the majority of countries have the right to an education, equal access to education for women remains a problem.
In developing and developed countries alike, millions of women do not finish school because they are forced (by their society, by their circumstances or by the threat of violence) to focus on household, caregiving and child-rearing responsibilities.
It was indeed “student-government” war because the reasons for the October five death and fire seem conflicting as to whether it was an electric fault or police teargas cansters.
This gave restless mood to the student populace; it was UNZA dark days and unforseen moments.

Family members and students mourn at Seventh Day Adventist Church Lusaka before Vespers body is carried to Namwala. Image by Lusaka Times

“We can’t say its electric fault that caused the death of that student, it is the police themselves who should be responsible for the loss because there were teargas canisters in both rooms where vespers was and those ones that gutted fire and I can’t say that it coincidentally can two separate rooms catch fire at once and another student dying at the same time,” said Mr. Bwalya; a Lusaka based parent.

University of Zambia October hostel room on fire admits riots. Image by Chishimba Bwalya

‘This is a peculiar case where the complainant is the state, the investigator is the state police, and the pimary suspect is the police.’
This can be seen before, during and after the burial, the police refused to avail any copy of the report to the family. Their fear was that the document may not be secured and if it leaked, it would jeopardize the investigation. The family insisted on even just having sight of the document to compare with what was observed during the autopsy. This, the police also denied the family.
“We do appreciate that this may be standard police procedure, but we are worried as a family. This is a peculiar case where the complainant is the state, the investigator is the state police, and the prime suspect is the police,” said Mr. Shimuzhila.
Moreover, there is no statement from the police as to who was in charge of the operation and what the orders were.
Amidst silence from the police, a number of people have continued to issue statements and opinions on this sorrowful case. A few comments have been sympathetic to the family, the student populace and others affected by this death. Other statements have been very painful to the family as they paint Vespers as a political agent. Others suggesting that she was involved in clandestine activities. There is no truth to all these statements. The police have not issued any warning to stop such statements. The family is still mourning in pain.
One can tell that investigations will not bare any fruits because the conflict of interest has engulfed the justice of the issue.


United Prosperous and Peaceful Zambia (UPPZ) president Charles Banda said Vespers death has nothing to do with politics but has everything to do with the police and those in charge of releasing student’s allowances on time.
UPPZ President added that the role of the police is not to kill people but to protect them in the case of students; police should take them out of the streets to the hostiles not vice versa.
But this day police allegedly followed students to their hostels few hours after the protest and fired some teargases.


NB: This publication is a property of Group Five (A sub group of the Media and Communication 3rd year class at the University of Zambia)

Written by: James Sakala

Copy Edited by: Peter Mwanza

Online Layout by: Chipema Chinyama and Chishimba Bwalya

Proof Reading: Chinyemba Kamweho and Chanda Chanda