HIGH poverty and unemployment levels have triggered the riots in Kitwe, says National Democratic Congress secretary general Mwenya Musenge.
Musenge stated in a statement yesterday that the riots in Kitwe were also a form of political revolt against the PF government by the youths.
There was a riot in Kitwe’s Chimwemwe Township last week after word went round that a Chinese had killed a Zambian.
An angry mob looted Chinese-owned shops during a riot.
And on Monday this week, Kitwe’s Buchi Township residents ran battles with police after an unknown man of Kitwe was shot dead at a car wash by a police officer who was in the company of Nkana Water workers that had gone to close an illegal water connection.
The residents threw stones at police officers who then reacted with teargas.
But Musenge stated that the riots that have rocked the mining city of Kitwe in the last four days have not come as a surprise to his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
“Clearly, these riots are NOT politically driven but have been necessitated by a culmination of factors. As a party, we are of the view that the high poverty and unemployment levels could have triggered these riots. And the high unemployment and poverty levels are not synonymous to Kitwe alone. It’s a national issue. The youths have used the riots to speak out and send a warning to the PF over their decimal and poor governance style,” Musenge stated.
“These riots are not any different from the food riots witnessed under the then UNIP administration. The political situation in the country is alarmingly tense and could degenerate. President Edgar Lungu should urgently address the social issues affecting young people. Youths feel dejected and neglected because they had so much hope in this regime that promised them a better future. Youths in all parts of Zambia are incensed and increasingly agitated mainly because of unfulfilled political promises.”
Musenge stated that Zambian youths had not forgotten what the PF regime promised them: “Lower taxes, more jobs and more money in their pockets.”
“Youths are tired of waiting for jobs that the PF regime has time and again been promising them. The riots in Kitwe are also a protest vote from young persons who are yearning for political change. Young persons will use any platform to vent their anger to the regime. Most of the productive age group in this country has been neglected and feel hopeless. The riots witnessed in Kitwe could have been avoided if young persons were empowered,” Musenge stated.
“As NDC, we fear that the situation might degenerate as we approach 2021. This country might see more such riots and we pray that they won’t be extreme. Zambia will also witness sporadic protests as the economic malaise deepens. The Kitwe riots are also a sign that the PF regime has lost favour and ground from the populace. These riots could have been avoided if the government had an agenda for the youths.”
Musenge also sent a message of condolences to the family of the Kitwe youth who was shot by police in Buchi Township on Monday.