UNIVERSITY of Zambia students claiming to be members of the Patriotic Front (PF) and others belonging to the United Party for National Development (UPND) yesterday almost exchanged blows over the wearing of party regalia during the institution’s Golden Jubilee cerebrations.
This happened at the university’s Monk Square where some students wrapped in PF chitenge material were roughed up by their UPND counterparts who questioned them why they were putting on party regalia despite an earlier agreement that no one was allowed to do so during the Golden Jubilee celebrations.
An altercation then ensued as the students that support the PF stood their ground, saying they would not remove the material because no one had stopped those who supported other parties from doing so.
This degenerated into chants of “pabwato” and “Zambia forward” as UNZA Chancellor Jacob Mwanza was delivering his speech at the main arena, forcing UNZASU president Jones Mwelwa to rush to the scene and intervene in the matter before it got out of hand.
Mr. Mwelwa told the students that there was need for them to respect themselves by ensuring that peace prevailed and advised the students not to disrupt the celebrations but wait until it was over if they wanted to support their political parties.
He warned the students that he would take it ‘‘personal’’ on them if they became unruly because the matter had been agreed on a day before that no one should turn the event into a political gathering.
“Do not make me take this thing personal. Why don’t you want to listen? If you want us to take it personal, we will do it since you don’t want to listen. Even if it means getting you expelled for your unruly behaviour,” Mr. Mwelwa warned.
The UPND supporters challenged him to tell the PF supporters who had put on their party regalia to remove them.
“It is not that we do not have the material. We agreed that this is not a political gathering and that no one should be allowed to put on party regalia but what are these doing here? You come here to threaten us, who are you? Student union president or a political cadre?
“If they don’t remove the regalia we will also put on our colours. There are people even at the arena who are putting on PF T-shirts and you have not done anything but you find it fit to come and threaten us? We will not leave them until they remove these chitenges,” one of the students told Mwelwa as the pushing and pulling continued until Mr. Mwelwa stepped between the two camps to calm the situation.
As the situation tensed up, the students who were putting on the PF party regalia left the scene but vowed not to remove the chitenges, maintaining that others were free to do so if they wanted.
“We are Governmnet and we can do whatever we want. Why are you making noise? Ok, we have gone but we will not remove the chitenges because no one tells us what to do. You are free to put on your own regalia,” one of them said. Later, the students who supported UPND went to the main arena where they passed running commentaries as Minister of Gender and Child Development Prof. Nkandu Luo delivered President Edgar Lungu’s speech.