YOUTHS planning protests over various governance issues say the procession will go ahead as scheduled for Monday despite them not receiving feedback from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
And the youth say they wrote to the Ministry of Home Affairs requesting that if they will not be allowed to protest on June 22, they will proceed to protest on June 23 even if it means meeting PF cadres head-on.
In an interview, Nawa Sitali, who spoke on behalf of the youths, Sitali vowed that the anti-corruption protesters would defend themselves if the police failed to stop the PF youths from acting violently.
“We would advise the PF youths to pick a different date if they want to protest. But if they want to meet us on the ground, we will not accept to be met by tyrants! We will not be cowed down by their statements. We urge the police to stop the PF youths if they intend to meet us violently; but if the police will not do their job, we are ready to meet them! This speaks to our democracy, and if at every given time that a group of youths rise and say, ‘if you do this, we will stand against you,’ we should be scared? We are afraid that same attitude may continue even until elections. What happens if the PF youths say, ‘whoever will vote for a particular candidate we will meet you at the ballot, we will beat you up?’ Are we going to be running away every single time? It is too much! We have people who fought for this democracy; we can’t have people who will fight to remove democracy. It never happens! If the PF says, ‘they are going to meet us’ we are going to meet, and if they act violently, we are ready! We know the consequences of protesting in such an environment. We will return the favour,” Sitali warned.
“We asked that the police be made available on the 22nd of June during our protest, but if they are not available, we will move our protest to the 23rd of June. But if the Minister (Stephen Kampyongo) feels the police are not available on both dates, we will police our own event. The Minister hasn’t yet gotten back to us. So, by our own indications, we are going ahead with the event. Unless they give us an alternative date that is workable with us, we are still going ahead with the protest, even if they say, ‘the police are not going to be there.’ We don’t want them to give us an alternative date that is on a weekend, we will prefer one that is in the course of the week. As per law, they are supposed to give us an alternative date.”
He wondered how people protesting against the Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019 were allowed to protest if the security situation in the country was not favourable.
“With regards to the people who were protesting Bill 10, we are shocked that people managed to get a permit within the shortest period of time! The police were available on that day when they told us that the security situation in the country is not favourable to hold a protest. We are shocked that the protest took place at the exact place we want to go: Parliament grounds. How is it that the security situation was favourable for them and not favourable for us? We believe that the same way the security situation was favourable for the other team is the way it will be favourable for us. It is our right to protest!” exclaimed Sitali.
Last week, Lusaka Province PF Youth chairperson Daniel Kalembe cautioned the youths planning to protest would be met head-on with their rival PF youths.