Barely does a month go by without university students causing chaos.
This habitual rioting is now the order of the day especially within Zambian public universities. Don’t we have other meaningful ways of addressing issues? Why do university students resort to rioting and destruction of property to make their voices heard?
Sadly enough, the victims in these violent demonstrations are usually the students. Can one punch a wall and remain unhurt? By engaging anti-riot police in running battles and direct combat, students only end up hurting themselves. It is time this habit stopped.
Recently, Copperbelt University students ran amok over government’s delay and continued silence over their unpaid allowances for projects, accommodation and meals.
This saw five female and two male students being arrested during the riots.
One would want to believe that universities give a lot of freedom to students to choose what to do with their lives. Unfortunately, this freedom is often abused. It results in lawlessness, drunkenness, immorality, fights and riots.
The late icon, Nelson Mandela, said one cannot be free by merely casting off one’s chains, but by living in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. So, as much as students might want to exercise their freedom, they too should enhance the freedom of others.
It is important to note that by resorting to violence, these students, who are looking forward to joining the workplace, usually send a bad message to their would-be employers. Who wants an employee that would use commotion and violence in the workplace as a way of solving disputes?
It is high time the universities’ senates established laws that would guide the behaviour of their students. Any student found inciting others to violence should be arrested and charged in court.
President Lungu warned of stern action against students at higher learning institutions if they fell prey to manipulation by political leaders ahead of the August 11 tripartite elections.
“The infiltration at schools of higher learning is worrying where students are being encouraged to riot and be violent over flimsy reasons. There is need to be united and maintain peace in this country,” Mr Lungu said.
He added that he would not tolerate violent behaviour among students and advised parents to take responsibility over their children who are lucky to be admitted to higher learning institutions.
However, Copperbelt University students union president, Humphrey Mwenya said “We regret what has continued to happen and we don’t take pleasure in seeing violence. We have appealed to the students to remain calm but unfortunately management and the police are fueling this already-tense situation. The students have even boycotted class today. The unrest was triggered by the suspensions as announced in the press by the government and the continued presence of the police on campus, as if this is a military base”.