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Zambia: Netizens Report Riots as Poll Results are Delayed

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Zambia, Citizen Media, Elections, Governance, Politics

Zambian netizens on Thursday 22 September reported widespread riots across the country as a result of delays [1] by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to announce election results for presidential, parliamentary and local government elections. One death has so far been recorded.

Users on various social networking sites claim that there was violence in the capital city, Lusaka, the Copperbelt [2] cities of Ndola and Kitwe, Mongu in the Western Province and Chipata in the Eastern Province where people were apparently calling for the declaration of the victory of opposition Patriotic Front (PF) leader Michael Sata, who has been leading in most of the constituencies where the results have so far been verified.

In a Facebook entry about the deployment of soldiers in Kitwe Donchi Kubeba [3] says:

Soldiers in tanks, I've just been dropped in Kitwe town. With machine guns, Ak47's and other military artillaries, the BIG question is is all this millitary artillery necessary for unarmed civilians?

This apparently refers to the deployment of soldiers to quell riots in this mining hub, which is historically a hotbed of protest against mining companies and the government.

On the riots in Lusaka, one Twitter user said:

@geshgroove [4]: RT @Mutheliso [5]: #Zambia [6] : Rioting is taking place in certain parts of the Capital City #Lusaka [7].

Urging restraint in the posts, @lwangamwilu [8]posted the following:

@lwangamwilu [9]: Alarmist reports can translate into actual chaos. Let's all post responsibly #BantuWatch [10] #ZambiaElections [11]

A retweet of events in one district of Kitwe City where a mosque was allegedly stoned stated:

@geshgroove [12]: RT @Mutheliso [5]: RT @makayi411 [13]: i can confirm that a small group of people have gathered at bulangililo market they … tmi.me/giMiQ [14]

On the apparent violence in Lusaka, @Mulumba [15] reported the following:

@Mulumba [16]: Just spoke to my sis, she's left work to head home after skirmishes in Lusaka town centre #ZambiaElections [11]

Humour was not lost when people deserted the usually congested streets of capital Lusaka. @KaliwaLubasi [17] posted this:

@KaliwaLubasi [18]: Zambians are such scaredy cats lol..ain't nobody in town..I can actually make a streer party right now.

Another retweet scoffed at the so-called riots:

@geshgroove [19]: RT @marcimpala [20]: (Riots? Looks more like kids burning boxes) Watch “Riots erupt in tight Zambian election” on YouTube bit.ly/nyKve3 [21]

Facebook updates were even more graphic with Yewa Kumwenda [22] posting:

Sad news from Kitwe riots right now is that one life has been lost.Its alleged that soldiers called to reinforce in calming riots fired live ammunition.All Wusakile residents have marched to Wusakile Police Station and all police men there have fled.So sad.

At the time of writing this post, ECZ has not released the final results.