Former University of Zambia deputy vice chancellor Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa has urged the Ministry of Higher Education and the police to take responsibility of the death of a fourth year student who suffocated to death, arguing that had there been efficiency in the manner students’ affairs were managed, the riots at UNZA would have been avoidable.
And Prof Lungwangwa who is also former Education minister under the MMD government has observed that the police should have controlled the riots at the institution without resorting to violence.
On Thursday evening, a multitude of University of Zambia students blocked Great East Road, protesting against government’s delay to pay them their semester meal allowances.
This prompted police to raid the campus and terrorised students, burning down a hostel in the process, which caused the death of Vesper Shimuzhila and left over 20 other students seriously injured.
According to one of the male students who rushed Shimuzhila to the hospital, the female student was pronounced dead upon arrival at Levy Mwanawasa General Hospital.
In an interview with News Diggers! Prof Lungwangwa said it was unfortunate that a female student’s life was lost through a riot that was avoidable.
He added that the Ministry of Higher Education knew very well that students depended on the allowances for their needs, hence the delayed payment was unacceptable.
“First of all its very unfortunate that the nation has lost a female student through a riot that was very avoidable. The riot, we understand was non payment or delayed payment of meal allowances. Now, that is an administrative matter because the Ministry of Higher Education knows very well that when students come [to school] their resources in terms of money or the allowance is not available, and to delay the payment of the allowance, definitely is unacceptable. How do you expect the students to live if they don’t have money to buy the food? So this was a very avoidable riot and its very unfortunate that the nation has lost a female student in a matter that should have been avoided,” said Prof Lungwangwa.
“This level of weak management on the part of Ministry of Higher Education is very unacceptable. And the Ministry of Higher Education must pull up its socks and be more efficient in the manner that it handles student affairs. We should not be loosing lives like this, innocent lives for that matter. [And] The police shouldn’t have gone to that extent. They should have controlled the situation without resorting to violence as means of arresting the situation. The use of force is not acceptable.”