YOUTHS planning to protest against various governance issues have appealed to Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo to allow them to exercise their right to express themselves.
In an interview, Nawa Sitali who spoke on behalf of his fellow youths seeking to protest, hoped that Kampyongo would overrule the police.
“The police told us that the protest should not go on because the security situation in the country does not allow for the protests to go on. We were advised to appeal as per Public Order Act to the Minister of Home Affairs on the protest because we are trying to negotiate for an alternative date. It is our constitutional right to protest and we are going to appeal to the minister. If the minister denies, which we hope he won’t, we hope he is going to reason and allow the young people to air their grievances. But if the Minister denies, we will sit down and see how we can proceed. But as indication is now is that we must go ahead and protest because it is the only way our voices will be heard,” Sitali said.
“We are hopeful that they will act in the right manner. And this thing they are saying ‘the protest will turn violent’ we don’t know where it is coming from, it is going to be peaceful. We are appealing to him as per procedure, even if we are aware of the remarks that he made that ‘they will be dealt with’ we are working on his conscious because he said that ‘those who want to take to the streets illegally’, we are following procedure and we are doing it legally. If he denies to give us our right to protest, he will be acting illegally himself. We are appealing to him and understand that he will act within the confines of the law, if he doesn’t, we will inform the nation about the next step but we are hopeful the remarks he made was just political rhetoric and he will act in the best interest of the office that he holds.”
Sitali said the youths were not moved by threats which had been made.
“When it comes to the threats that were peddled, I think the most difficult one was the one that was issued by the deputy chief whip of the Patriotic Front honorable Tutwa Ngulube where he told the police that ‘when you find them, break their bones.’ It was disturbing for us and the President also warned us. But look, we understand that sometimes it is very difficult for our elected officials to allow people to exercise their right to be heard. This is a protest for the Zambian young people and all of them are angry and this is what we communicated to the police that by not allowing this protest to go ahead, they will not stop the grievances that the young people have. It is better to allow us to go on the streets and the threats are not going to work on us,” said Sitali.
The youths had planned a protest for June 22 but police denied them a permit, citing security concerns.