Those responsible for Vespers’ death should be held accountable – ZANASU

RESTORE peace to the University of Zambia now by dismissing whoever had caused the injuries on students and death of Vespers Shimunzhila, the Zambia National Students Union has urged.

ZANASU president Misheck Kakonde said the Human Rights Commission’s recommendations should be implemented and whoever gave the orders that led to the death of Vespers and caused injuries and loss of property for some students within campus should resign and be held accountable.

Kakonde stated that the use of unnecessary force by police and riot squads had been predominant not only at UNZA but at other universities, colleges and in some instances high schools as well.

He stated that the orders to use police force against student demonstrators had been entertained for some time.

“But we call for firing of whoever was deployed and threw [teargas] canisters around campus without consideration for human rights and the right to privacy by the students who were in their rooms. The act by the police was not just illegal but also showed disrespect and violation of human rights,” he stated.

Kakonde stated that the union wished that the issue of Vespers and the other injured students at UNZA would have been given the needed attention more especially in 2018 and the culprits be fired immediately.

He stated that ZANASU validates the investigations by the Human Rights Commission “who brought out findings that are credible among them; that there was and still remains no proper channel of communication between the Bursaries Committee and the student populace especially on schedule of payment of allowances following the ban of the student union by the Minister of Higher Education Professor Nkandu Luo.”

Kakonde asked Prof Luo to lift the ban on students’ unions at all higher learning institutions such as Copperbelt and desist from telling students to have guild elections because there was no clause in the constitution that supports guild.

He stated that the ban was not only a violation of the fundamental freedom of association guaranteed under Article 21 (1) of the Constitution but also a violation of Section 27 (1) of the higher education Act No. 4 of 2013 which provides that, “There shall be a students’ union in a higher education institution.”

Kakonde stated that the student unrest of October 4, 2018 demonstrated that banning student unions was not an effective remedy to averting student unrest.

“To the contrary, it makes the management of students’ welfare difficult as it breaks the communication channel between the students, UNZA management and the government. Hence the Minister of Higher Education should leave students unions to exist independently and lift the ban at the Copperbelt University, Mulungushi University, Kwame Nkrumah University, Chalimbana University, Robert Makasa University to mention but a few and these must exist as students unions than what she is advocating, the so-called guild, which has got no place in Zambian universities, colleges and trades schools for it limits the voice of the students and ability to exist independently,” stated Kakonde. “We advise the Minister of Higher Education to desist from setting a time bomb in the various universities, colleges and trade schools.”

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