Voice of Vespers, a movement to advocate for justice for Vespers Shimunzhila, has pulled out of her remembrance vigil after outrage from many Zambians who are unhappy with the inclusion of Minister of Higher Education Professor Nkandu Luo and her Ministry of Religious Affairs counterpart Reverend Godfridah Sumaili, among the keynote speakers.
A Human Rights Commission report on events of October 4, 2018 at UNZA, concluded that Vespers suffocated to death after police caused a fire by firing tear gas in her room. This was during protests by students who were demanding payment of their meal allowances.
The HRC recommended the prosecution of officers involved in the operation but a state-instigated inquest is still on-going in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court.
Now circulating on social media is a flier about the remembrance vigil dubbed ‘Special Tribute to Vespers: The National Together We Remember Vigil’ organised by Pillars of Peace Zambia’.
According to the flier, the event, at which a number of local artists such as Mampi, B-Flow, Wezi and Kantu are set to perform, is slated for 28 February, 2019 at UNZA.
Among the advertised main speakers are Prof Luo, Rev Sumaili, former Chief Justice of Zambia Lombe Chibesakunda and UNZA Vice-Chancellor Professor Luke Mumba.
On learning of the presence of ministers at the forthcoming event, some outspoken Zambian netizens took to Twitter, Friday, to condemn the move.
Following this outrage, Voice of Vespers tweeted; “We will not be participating in this event because the organizers have not shared with us the reasons for inviting the officials who will be speaking. We would have been comfortable to participate if the speakers were coming to announce how justice for Vespers will be served.”
Musician B Flow, also pulled out of the event saying he accepted the invitation before knowing who the speakers were.
“I wish to notify my fans that I will not be participating in this event until the organizers explain to me the rationale behind the selection of speakers. I accepted the invitation before the poster was designed. My performance was going to be pro bono and in honor of Vespers,” tweeted B Flow.
“I’m available to participate if the speakers have been invited specifically to announce the results of the investigations and to accept the responsibility of compensating Vespers’ family. I have reached out to the organizers but they have not picked my calls or given feedback.”
Meanwhile, Wezi said she had listened to public outcry and would not perform at the event.
“My grandma says it’s wise to listen.. the reasoning from everyone here has made me understand the implications of performing here and having said that, we shall continue to do activism work for Vespers without compromising in anyway. With that said, I will NOT be performing here,” tweeted Wezi.