Nasty riots

THE nasty riots in Kanyama Township in Lusaka smack of some disruptive undertones aimed at blemishing the spirited fight against cholera at the time when the trend analysis shows a 50 per cent decrease in the disease load.

Kanyama Township is the epicentre of the cholera outbreak which is now edging the 3, 000 mark in cumulative cases with about 70 deaths in all the affected areas.

It is thus justified that preventive measures have been stepped up in the sprawling township where night movements are restricted and willy-nilly street vending has been curtailed.

At the time preventive measures are paying off, it is irrational for anyone to mount an upheaval when in fact the interventions are aimed at saving the lives of the very people engaged in the ugly riots.

What is of concern is that the riots in Kanyama were not as widespread as the instigators would want the nation to believe.

And for once, we commend the Zambia Police for the professional manner in which the situation was handled.

For in the midst of unprovoked attacks targeted against them, they did not fall for the mob psychology and hit back indiscriminately.  Had they done so, the situation could have been worse with many  people dead.  Police officers were openly being stoned.

We know for a fact, having been on the ground that the riots were started by youths clad in UPND regalia chanting anti-government slogans and hurling insults at the officers and government officials for removing them from the streets.

Yet until then, the clean-up exercise in the cholera-hit capital city had been a peaceful affair because everyone understood and appreciated what was being done.

It is a shame that the UPND, while pretending to help fight cholera can allow their youths to fan chaos to show that the government’s efforts were unpopular.

The stone-throwing UPND cadres left several innocent residents injured together with some police officers.

The damage that they caused, burning  a garbage collection tipper truck and smashing the window screen for a vehicle belonging to the Zambia Police is uncalled for.

The awareness campaign has been enhanced on different platforms while the presence of men and women in uniform is symbolic of the seriousness authorities have attached to the fight against the disease which broke out in October.

But has all this been in vain?  We do not think so. Even in the midst of such misguided hooliganism, we implore the defence and security personnel not to relent in their gallant effort to fight cholera.

We call on the authorities  to deal sternly with the perpetrators of the riots yesterday.  Let them see that lawlessness does not pay.

Interventions being employed are not aimed at disadvantaging any one segment of society, but are aimed at wiping out cholera.

The current measures may be stringent to the extent of slowing down business, but certainly they do not warrant an uncivilised and violent reaction as was the case in Kanyama.

As we have alluded to before, the outbreak of cholera has galvanised the entire nation into a united force to clean up the filth in our localities and it is a shame that some political players are actually the ones fanning unrest.

We all must appreciate that sacrifices have to be made, that it won’t be “life as usual” after this epidemic.

Definitely, street vending, even if it continues, must be regulated by having designated areas for trading.

But this can only be done when there is peace and order in the nation.  You cannot prosper in an unhealthy environment.

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