There was drama at Parliament building yesterday when a civil rights activist took parliamentarians by surprise in a new act of the famous Black Friday protest by lying protrate on the steps of the National Assembly in a show of economic anguish and suffering many poor Zambians were going through as a result of the sudden removal of maize and fuel subsidies by government.
Geoffrey Simukonde, a child rights activist solely changed the tune of the Black Friday protest campaign which has over the many weeks been confined to organized protests when he singularly walked into parliament premises wearing black and lay on the steps leading to Parliament building to the surprise of the police.
Parliament police, who were not expecting such an act were taken completely off guard and only realized that the man lying on the steps of parliament building was in fact a Black Friday protester soon after a Muvi Television crew caught up with the man and started filming the action.
Upon realizing that Mr Simukonde was a Black Friday protester, police quickly whisked him away from the clinic where he had been taken as a ‘patient’ and took him to the police station together with the Muvi Tv crew that was covering the one man Black Friday protest.
The police who felt they were dribbled at their own job were incensed and harassed Mr Simukonde and the Muvi Tv crew and managed to have the footage deleted claiming that the act was ‘ridiculously’ staged.
A Daily Nation reporter caught up with Mr Simukonde soon after he had been ejected from Parliament grounds and in the interview that followed, the child activist said: ” I came here alone but carrying the voices of many who cannot be here because of the numerous problems they going through because of the poor policies of the PF government. I did not want to carry placards denouncing government but I wanted to deliver my message by sleeping on the steps leading to Parliament building and to cry out to the MPs that the removal of subsidies on maize and fuel was as bad as a death sentence for many poor Zambians.”
Mr Simukonde said whether government liked it or not, the Black Friday campaign would continue in many other forms and in other places because civil society organizations were determined to have government listen to the cries of the citizens.
Mr Simukonde said it was brutal for government to remove subsidies on maize and fuel in a country whose economy he described as ailing, failing and killing.
He said governments were for the people and that it was important for leaders to cultivate a culture of listening to the cries and challenges of the citizens because failure to do so was a ticket out of power.
“The government might not like our voices but they will have to listen anyway. If they fail to listen and continue imposing harsh policies on citizens, the citizens will force them out of power because absolute power is always with the people. They might silence few voices instantaneously but emotions are simmering and soon they will erupt like a volcano and yet government has the opportunity to revise their harsh policies now,” Mr Simukonde said.