Police on Monday arrested six former students from Zambia’s highest learning institution, the University of Zambia (UNZA), who were protesting over lack of jobs from the time they graduated.
The students, who were part of other students, were arrested at an upmarket shopping mall, Arcades Shopping Complex in Lusaka, the country’s capital, where they gathered so that they could march to their former university.
Zambia Police Service Spokesperson Charity Munganga-Chanda said the six former students have been arrested for unlawful assembly and are currently in custody awaiting court appearance.
The other students run away when they noticed police presence, she added.
“The former students had gathered at Arcades Shopping complex to protest over unemployment. They are currently in custody and will appear in court,” she said.
Among those arrested included a former president and the former deputy president of the students’ union.
Pictures posted on social media such as Facebook showed the pupils dressed in their graduation gowns carrying placards.
Some of the writings on the placards read: “Graduate in acute poverty”, “Jobs strictly for relatives” and “Distinction but no job”.
But the governing Patriotic Front (PF) has accused leading opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema of sponsoring the former students to stage the protest over unemployment.
Sunday Chanda, party’s vice-president for media and publicity, said the group of former students that gathered to stage the protest recently met the opposition leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND).
“It is sad that a group of former UNA students that gathered to ‘demonstrate’ joblessness dined and wined with UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema a fortnight ago. While HH (Chanda) did not find it worth to share something with these graduates considering his accumulated wealth, he found it politically correct to see these young men paraded on the streets under a semblance of a protect,” he said in a statement.
According to figures from the country’s Central Statistical Office (CSO), Zambia only has about 500, 000 people in formal employment out of a total labor force of over three million people. The current unemployment levels in the country is estimated at over 20 percent. Enditem