Home Affairs Minister Steven Kampyongo says it is an insult to Zambians for anyone to think that poverty and hunger caused the stampede at OYDC on Monday in which eight lives were lost.
And Kampyongo says the intelligence didn’t anticipate a massive gathering at OYDC.
Kampyongo was responding to a question from Monze UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu who wanted to know whether the stampede was a result of criminality or severe poverty in Zambia.
“Mr Speaker I must place it on record that this government through the Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare has looked after its people in need through various social safety nets that are in place, and indeed we have had droughts in some areas where if this government wasn’t proactive and wasn’t caring, we could have lost lives. Mr Speaker, the government has been available for its people in need and we acknowledge those that are in poverty but certainly Sir, we don’t think a gathering such as the one which was called at OYDC could have be a solution to any poverty situation,” Kampyongo said.
“We have seen gatherings being called by different men of God where people have gathered in a similar manner. The only difference with this one was that these people had promised some little food hampers and it’s an insult to the people of Zambia to think that a 10kg which was promised by those people was going to solve the problems of people who have been living for so many years, it’s an insult and Honourable Jack Mwiimbu, let us learn to to give people respect, those are citizens and when they are called to go and pray and someone in addition offers them something it doesn’t mean they are dying with hunger in the manner you would want everyone to believe.”
Kampyongo wondered whether the hampers were even available.
“Mr Speaker the reason of that stampede is exactly like I have explained, all public gatherings are supposed to be managed through the provisions of the public order Act. Any convener of a gathering of such magnitude should ensure security enough to manage people. In any case that food he is talking about was not even seen, that is the reason why the Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs declined to go and officiate at this function because she didn’t see the evidence when it was demanded from the conveners and for us sir, we are treating everyone, especially those that convened this meeting as a suspect and investigations will be extended to all those who might have played a role which cost people’s lives,” said Kampyongo.
And Kampyongo said it was difficult for the intelligence to anticipate a massive gathering at OYDC.
He was responding to a question from Chirundu UPND member of parliament Douglas Siakalima who asked: “People flocked to OYDC as early as 02 hours and in this case, we know that it was food they were following and not the Holy Spirit. Now how do you make people feel safe that the intelligence and other security wings in the country went to sleep without realizing that the flock had started at 02 hours and by 06 hours it had swelled, do you tell me that the police went to sleep? Wasn’t it possible for the intelligence to know that at that time people had flocked to OYDC?”
But Kampyongo said OYDC, being a sports complex, was usually busy and it was therefore not unusual that there were a lot of people on that particular day.
“That’s a sports complex and anyone who has gone there has seen that people go there to do various activities. That’s a very active place and activities go on even at awkward hours so it would have been difficult for anyone to suspect the people were going to gather in the manner they gathered and it was difficult to anticipate that there would be a calamity. Like I had said, they had notified the police…the intelligence of the police, they could have picked that but that’s an active place and there was no anticipation that matters might end up the way it is,” said Kampyongo.