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 2009-08-13 03:19 pm Back to NEWS
Dora must go, demand CBU, UNZA students

UNIVERSITY of Zambia (UNZA) and Copperbelt University (CBU) students yesterday demanded that President Rupiah Banda revokes the "immoral appointment" of Dora Siliya as Education minister. In Lusaka during the class boycott, the students said they had given President Banda, Siliya and Inspector General of Police Francis Kabonde a red card.

The students who had gathered at the famous monk square were led by University of Zambia Students Union (UNZASU) president Duncan Nyirongo.

During his address to the students, Nyirongo said it was demeaning to the integrity of the nation and that of the students to have a person who had failed to follow the laid-down procedures on national issues such as Zamtel to serve as education minister.

He said the students wanted to see action from both President Banda and Kabonde over the shooting of students by police officers.

"So when I say I.G abash, you say IG or police, red card. Dora Siliya abash, you say Dora Siliya, red card. Rupiah Banda abash. Rupiah Banda, red card," Nyirongo said to the students who readily and willingly responded by saying, "abash Kabonde, abash Siliya, abash kanitundila" [referring to President Banda who made the same statement when a monkey urinated on him during a recent press conference at State House in June]."

The students, who carried red cards, raised them in approval to almost every statement Nyirongo made during his address.

Nyirongo said it was totally immoral and demeaning to have a person like Siliya sit in Cabinet.

He said the students had resolved that Siliya should not even attend today's graduation ceremony to be held at the Great East Road campus in order to ensure a peaceful procession.

"It's unfortunate that Rupiah Banda can go to the extent of demeaning our intelligence. It is totally unfortunate that today he has forgotten where the party, which put him in power, came from. Today, he has the audacity to say 'I don't want to listen to the students'," Nyirongo said. "It's totally immoral [Siliya's appointment]. She should resign on moral grounds. The President should remove her from office. If he fails, the students are going to pass a vote of no confidence in him and his government."

Nyirongo said the students would not allow injustice in the nation.

He said President Banda was elected to serve the Zambians and not to take them for granted.

Nyirongo said the students had lost confidence in Kabonde and the police service because they were busy shooting students and no action was being taken against the perpetrators.

He said journalists were also being beaten in full view of the police and senior government officials.

Nyirongo said the students wanted to see action from President Banda and not just merely condemning in words.

The students moved around the campus while others walked towards the gate in protest.

UNZASU vice-president Grant Chisapa asked President Banda to start appointing people on merit.

He said Siliya's clearance by High Court judge Philip Musonda would not take away the fact that she flouted tender procedure by disregarding the Attorney General's legal advice over Zamtel.

"Because of political interference, the High Court ruled in favour of Siliya. In other countries, it would not even take a demonstration such as this one for Siliya to resign. In other countries, just statements from people are enough to make someone resign," said Chisapa. "Rupiah Banda at the moment has no regret in whatever he says. If he can appoint Dora Siliya, then let him also appoint [MMD national secretary] Katele Kalumba, because what is the difference anyway?"

Chisapa said the "big man" who claimed that he would follow late president Levy Mwanawasa's legacy had totally disappointed the nation.

And CBU students staged a peaceful demonstration around Kitwe demanding the removal of Siliya from office and action against the shooting of a first year student recently.

Business in the Kitwe central business district came to a halt as shop owners hurriedly closed their shops fearing a nasty occurrence following the students' demonstration.

The demonstration started after a students general meeting at the CBU monk square unanimously resolved to go on a two-day class boycott.

The students expressed displeasure that their colleague, Cornelius Mwape who was shot by the police, was still languishing in hospital while Local Government minister Benny Tetamashimba had been flown to South Africa.

One of the students said if the students did not do anything over Mwape's shooting, no justice would be done in the next five to 15 years.

He said the law needed to take its course and that going by the happenings in the country's justice system, previous cases were used as precedents in interpreting current and future cases.

The student said Mwape was unable to do anything now and that he had missed classes for two weeks.

He demanded that the government needed to compensate Mwape with no less than K20 million for the police shooting.

Copperbelt University Students Union (COBUSU) vice president Lucky Miyanda declared that classrooms were a no-go area for students this week.

Miyanda then asked the students what they wanted to do and in response they demanded a peaceful demonstration into the city centre.

COBUSU president Kasonde Mwenda then proposed that students march through Chiwala Road using the CBU rear gate to "confuse the enemy."

The students who clearly outwitted police marched from CBU through Chiwala Road through Freedom Avenue into President Avenue and converged on City Square and Matuka Avenue.

The students interchanged singing of the national anthem with chants of 'Siliya must go!' as they walked and ran through the roads, causing panic among motorists who quickly made u-turns upon seeing the students who brandished tree branches while marching.

Throughout the march, the students policed themselves preventing their fellow students from attacking motorists.

While the students were at City Square chanting slogans, Kitwe District police commanding officer Nelson Phiri arrived with a few police officers and summoned Miyanda who explained to him what the protest was about.

The police who seemed to have been caught unawares appeared to have been doing some sort of damage control given that it was their recent shooting incident coupled with the students' anti-Siliya stance that sparked the protest.

Instead of arriving in their usual dramatic style of firing teargas to disperse such crowds, police arrived quietly and were in the peripheries of the happenings.

The students moved from City Square to the Freedom Statue on Matuka Avenue where they chanted slogans. Some striking Shoprite workers were seen joining the students in the protest.

A senior police officers only identified as Hachunde who was on the ground leading a few police officers armed with teargas canisters then asked student union leaders to lead the students away from Independence Avenue back to the City Square.

COBUSU president Kasonde Mwenda then told Hachunde that the police presence was attracting the students and that the students would only move away from Independence Avenue if he accompanied them.

Hachunde then accompanied the students and Mwenda briefly addressed the students.

Later at City Square Mwenda also told students that police needed to know that they were citizens beyond them.

He led students into anti-student-shooting chants and anti-Siliya shouts.

From the City Square, the students returned into Independence Avenue where they marched on into Kuomboka Drive past Kitwe Central Hospital before making a stop-over at Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) Kitwe studios.

However, the students just ended at the gate of the ZNBC Kitwe studios chanting anti-Siliya slogans.

CBU dean of students Emmanuel Chunda was present at ZNBC Kitwe studios monitoring the situation when the students were blocked from entering the premises.

The students then returned to CBU under police escort.

On arrival at CBU through Jambo Drive, the students lit a fire at the gate.

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