LUSAKA Province Minister Bowman Lusambo has mocked youths who protested on Monday, recalling how he used to go to the bush with a girlfriend to appreciate the “good scenario of God”.

And Lusambo says UPND president Hakainde Hichilema is playing politics by showing solidarity to incarcerated photographer Chellah Tukuta.

In an interview, Lusambo argued that anybody who operated from the bush was either a charcoal burner or a hunter, not youths who wanted to dialogue with government over pressing governance matters.

“For me, as Minister of Lusaka Province, I can assure you that Lusaka is safe, I am interacting very well with the youths in my province. Just yesterday, I had a meeting with my fellow youths and we had a very productive meeting with my fellow youths ranging from political, to developmental activities. So, for me, Lusaka is very safe. Those protests yesterday (Monday) cannot spark anything. I was in a Cabinet meeting yesterday trying to see how we can improve the living standards of the people. So, those people who went into the bush; the only few people who go in the bush are farmers, when they are going to till the land and prepare for agricultural activities. Others, who go in the bush are hunters; if they want to go hunt animals. When I was young, I used to go in the bush to look for wild fruits because I really enjoyed wild fruits,” Lusambo said.

“Sometimes you can go in the bush if you want to hunt birds, other people who go in the bush are charcoal burners because they go in the bush so that they can go and cut trees for charcoal. The last time we heard of people going in the bush is not even in Zambia, it was in Angola when they were experiencing civil strife; in DRC when there was civil strife; in Rwanda when there was genocide, people went in the bush running away for safety. There is no situation in our country and province that can warrant our people to go in the bush. I remember I went in the bush with my girlfriend just to go and see the good scenario of Zambia, the nice trees, the rocks in this country, we went in the bush. How can you go in the bush and say we are protesting in the bush? It is unfortunate. So, Lusaka is safe and the youths are very safe.”

He said it was disappointing that musician Maiko Zulu and motivational speaker Mubita Nawa were also referring to themselves as youths.

“When I was at school in grade three, I used to watch on TV, Kwacha Good Morning Zambia, I used to watch St Maiko, I used to watch Sister D by the time I was in grade three, grade four, grade five, I was a youth. Today, St Maiko wants to be a youth? I am very shocked! I am very shocked that St Maiko can be a youth today. I am very shocked that Nawa (Mubita) can be a youth today, whether Pilato can be a youth today. When you see things happening like that, then you realise there is a third force in this thing,” he argued.

“Tell me: who is Nawa, who is St Maiko? B-Flow is my younger brother. Look at St Maiko, he is a parent; maybe he is a grandfather! This time, he is supposed to be pumping sense in his grandchildren! How can St Maiko sink so low to go in the bush? Maybe he has become a hunter? So, I haven’t seen any youths in Lusaka protesting, some of those people are grandfathers! When they were youths, we were in school in grade three. How can St Maiko be in a group of youths and say he is a youth? People are questioning the status of his mind. This is not the time to start youth activism; this is the time to take opportunities.”

Lusambo warned the youths that government would not allow the protesters to cause confusion in the capital city.

“We are not going to allow the few individuals to cause confusion in our city. Let them go and sit down with Hakainde Hichilema and he explains to them how privatisation happened. We have intelligent youths and the youths cannot be moved by political motives. The youths in this country are at universities, they are secondary schools and they come to us for empowerment; they don’t come and demonstrate to get youth empowerment, no! They come to our offices to tell us we need the enabling environment. So, are you telling me that the youths we have in this country are musicians? It is wrong! You can’t feel that you are the only important youths. The President has one million eyes and one million ears; you think the President is not aware of the activities, he is aware of all the activities of this country,” Lusambo warned.

And Lusambo, who is also Kabushi PF member of parliament, said Hichilema was playing politics by supporting Tukuta.

“How can a normal person like Hakainde Hichilema go and pay solidarity to a person who has been insulting a woman because there is no difference between the woman he was insulting and Hakainde Hichilema’s wife? There is no difference, woman is a woman. So, I am very shocked by my pastor Nevers Mumba for him to defend the cameraman, I am shocked because there is no difference between mum Florence Mumba or the woman Tukuta was insulting. Let us separate politics from Ubuntu (humanity). Let us put a distinction. It is not always that we have to put politics first. There is a time we have to condemn and act as human beings. If you put politics in Ubuntu tomorrow, it will be you who is going to be insulted,” cautioned Lusambo.