The Ministry of Higher Education has withdrawn bursaries from five students who participated in a riot instigated by a 10-minute power outage at the institution last week.
At a media briefing, Thursday, Higher Education Minister Professor Nkandu Luo condemned the riot, saying there were better ways of expressing displeasure.
“Last week, we experienced a power blackout. It was something like 10 minutes and during that period, students took to the streets to start stoning cars. And what was sad as that one of the cars they stoned had a woman with a sick child. Now as Minister for Higher Education, I apologize to the woman. The universities in this country are not places for hooligans. They are places where we expect individuals to learn. What always baffles me is why the students always decide to go to the streets where innocent people are driving to go and start stoning them. If at all they are aggrieved, they may as well come to this ministry and start stoning this ministry and not innocent people. In this particular instance, there was no reason whatsoever for the students to take to the streets. If there was a power outage for 10 minutes, that cannot be used as a reason to start stoning cars,” Prof Luo said.
“In fact, my own take about this, which we are investigating at the moment, is that this was premeditated behavior because my studies of how these riots happen, students first of all go round trying to mobilise their colleagues. In this particular case, within seven minutes of power outage, a small number of students took to the streets, beat up the innocent citizens and then they started stoning the cars. And therefore, my own take is that this was premeditated. These stidents have been planning this for some time and they had connections which even warned them that power would go out at such and such a time. Because there is no way if it wasn’t premeditated that they would take to the streets within 10 minutes.”
Prof Luo named the five students saying they did not deserve sponsorship whilst other more deserving people were not in school.
“To this effect, I want to say that all those that have been identified to have participated in this behavior and I will call them by name, Misheck Kakonde who is popularly known as ‘Neighbours’, Richard Malambo who is popularly known as ‘Buffalo’, Kelleys Chilekwa who is popularly known as ‘Chilepule Baby’, Muwende who is popularly known as ‘Pamokanjo’ and Miyenga Lifuke who is known as ‘Mafifi, have with immediate effect lost their bursaries in this ministry. They will not be supported from this ministry. There are a lot of children out there that are seeking education who are not being supported and I would like that those children that would like to get support should immediately benefit from the loss of scholarship from these five students. There is a sixth student whom I am following up, in fact, the evidence sitting at the table shows that he was also involved, he will in due course lose his benefits from this ministry. And it is my sincere hope that when these students are called to exculpate themselves, the University management would take the bull by the horn. They should ensure that these students are punished,” said Prof Luo.
“The universities have done in Zambia because of student’s behavior. And as I have said before I will not condone this kind of behavior. We have given priority to education because a country without education cannot flourish. Students have been paid on time and now that they have no excuse to riot which was the case in the past, that they are rioting because of this, now they have no reason whatsoever to riot and they want to use stupid excuses such as the power cut for ten minutes which was affecting every Zambian. And I will not allow these students to be back in our institutions of higher learning.”