The Zambia National Students Union (ZANASU) advises Government to avoid sliding into regime that may be seen by its citizenry as infringing on fundamental freedoms of expression and association by deportation of foreign nationals who share divergent views. Honourable Dora Siliya, who announced the deportation, must own up and understand that the apparent miscommunication between Eden University and Government coming from government communication apparatus is what has led to this unfortunate situation.
We believe the deportation of Professor Patrice Lumumba, a guest of our colleagues from Eden University could have been avoided if Government had engaged our affiliate University to discuss any of its concerns in his presentation on matters affecting Zambia, especially at a time when the country is experiencing high anti-Chinese propaganda. ZANASU calls for greater interface between Government and institutions of higher learning in general to avoid the repeat of what has happened in future.
What is saddening is that Government had been aware of his well-publicised visit to this country and to interacting with University students but kept quiet until Professor Lumumba was at the airport for him to be deported. While ZANASU does not subscribe to any person – whether Zambian or foreign national – to incite citizens towards xenophobic attacks against other people, whether Africans, Whites or Chinese, we believe Government should have discussed such concerns with Eden University during time the visit was being organised or publicised.
This decision by Government has robbed our local university of an initiative to mobilise resources which government does not provide to private universities but has also deeply inconvenienced the organisers of this program because they now have to begin looking for funds to pay back institutions that were involved in hosting such events as well as refunding those who bought tickets.
We would like to caution government against these decisions being made by Ministers and technocrats as they have a very high potential of creating resentment among students of their elected leaders and government. The PF should remain worried with these kind of arbitrary actions that will make it unpopular among students who resent their right to association and expression being infringed upon.
As opposed to just announcing the deportation, ZANASU demands Hon Dora Siliya as Chief Government Spokesperson must offer an unreserved apology to students from Eden University, organisers and the entire students’ fraternity for acts of its servants that have caused so much pain among students, with a potential to cause a rift between government and students, which we doubt would be beneficial for President Lungu’s administration.
Zambia National Students Union