By Austin Mbozi
To stop street vending and clean up our cities, two things must be done:
(a) the relatively useful Alexander Chikwanda must be appointed Vice President and be let to perform key presidential roles while Sata remains president but does nothing and then cede power in 2016 when his term ends (roughly the way Mandela let Mbeki rule South Africa as Vice President. Guy Scot must be finance minister).
(b) The entire PF administration, parastatal staff, councils etc must stop listening to Fred Mmembe’s Post newspaper editorials and facilitate this by discontinuing buying The Post newspaper for government offices (Government institutions currently buy The Post, Times of Zambia and Zambia Daily Mail). Zealous PF cadres should buy their fellow pro- PF Post newspaper using their personal money since it is not worthy buying using tax paper’s money.
These moves will confirm the useless input of President Sata and Mr Fred Mmembe. I use the term ‘confirm their useless input’because although Sata and Mmembe’s input are now useless, the PF cadres behave as if these two are useful. So the solution is to be honest and confirm their useless input by confining Sata to an officially useless role and Mmembe by not reading what he writes.
It is clear President Sata does not understand administrative procedures, roles of and limits of his appointees, lacks diplomacy, cannot read documents, reports or laws in detail, lacks capacity to plan anything in detail and sees things in isolated personalized instances, not as whole systematic units. But I do not think it is right to remove him or force him to resign now. The country can further be disunited and disorderly. For the country to continue moving forward, it is better that President Sata remains President and enjoys all the enumeration privileges as allowed by the laws. It is not unconstitutional for him a delegate his vice president to perform his roles.
It is better that Sata is action-silent than let him cause confusion in his effort to appear to be working. If you notice that your bus driver is incompetent but it will be confusion-causing to remove him, what do you do? It is surely better he continues sitting on the driver’s seat but removes his hands lets and legs off the steering wheel and pedals so that the car safely grinds to a half on its own. If you try to force him he will press hard on the accelerator in protest and cause an accident. The more you force Sata to work, the more problems you will get. It is better he is not utilized than let him continue confusing the entire state machinery and its professional staff.
How Sata caused widespread street vending and city dirt
President Sata is the one who stopped former Local Government Minister Nkandu Luo from removing street vendors. He clearly violated the Lusaka City Local Government bye -laws against street vending. As a result even those selling in markets and shops wondered why venders who do not pay to the council should sell and capture their would-be customers in front of their shops and markets. They therefore also offloaded their goods from shops and the markets into the streets. Even those jobless people who may not have been selling because councils did not allocate them plots went to occupy any available space in the streets. Side roads along Lumumba road are all blocked, causing traffic congestion on the main road. The walking corridors are blocked. So pedestrians and wheelbarrow ‘cabs’ that clash on the way are forced to use the same traffic road. That goods delivery stretch from Total filling station off Mumbwa road to City market is blocked. Produce delivery Trucks get stuck around marketers. In compounds, such as new Kanyama’s last bus stop, vehicles have to meander through the stalls of marketers.
Arguing that that President Sata backed them, they are constructing permanent structures in illegal parts of the road and corridors. Those of you that drive in these areas will agree with me that street vendors have become rude, menacing and appearing as if they will burn down your vehicle if you accidentally bump into their merchandise or hit one of them. They created a Donchi Kubeba market without approval from authorities, pelted Professor Nkandu Luo when he visited that market, and vow to deal with anybody trying to remove them.
Street venders were there under MMD, but they were fewer and were staying chaku nyoomana; prepared to run away whenever authorities came to remove them.
Because of this council officials could not know how to proceed and enforce bye laws which the President violated. The Lusaka city Council where forced to make vague and mutually unpractical statements which clearly were meant both to please the President and at the same time try to remove the vendors. For example at one time the council said they would be charging more on those selling on the streets than those in shops and markets. This is unpractical since street vendors have not legally binding fixed stands to keep records on who has paid or not. Now they have run out of ideas, suggesting wield things such as allowing them to sell in some streets and not in others. Rubbish!
Off course we do not expect council professional staff to openly blame the President. But we expect the elected officials like Lusaka Mayor Daniel Chisanga and Nkandu Luo to simply openly blame it on Sata. Those of you educated men and women who agree to work under a character like President Sata will keep looking foolish. Next time he will fire or blame you for the problem he created. Mark my words.
Mmembe’s role in escalating street vending.
It is hypocrisy of Fred Mmembe and his Post newspaper editorial last few days ago to say that Sata must do something about cleaning our cities. Mmembe wants to disassociate himself from the problem now? Is it not Mmembe and his Post that wrote an editorial that Sata was correct in allowing street vending because he wanted street vendors to be treated in a ‘humane’way? Who is Mmembe to define the humane way? Those that made local government bye-laws against street vending are not animals but humane people who realized that it is inhumane to allow vendors selling on the streets because they do not only pile up unhealthy garbage but their constant presence ( 0430 to about 23 hours) makes the council find it difficult and expensive to clean up. If Sata was humane to allow vendors then why is the Post now demanding that Sata cleans up the cities? How can he clean the cities and allow vendors at the same time?
You see, what Mmembe writes can demotivate council officers because they know that the media is on Sata’s side, which can incite vendors began violent targets at council officers, the police and ministers like they did to professor Luo. No! Mr Mmembe. Don’t run away now. You are part of the dirty cities’ problem through your writings. Do not disown Sata now. Go down with him in the history as supporters of dirty cities. During the early 90’s your Post published an article to the effect that Vernon Johnson Mwaanga’s drug trafficking record will live with him for life, such that when he dies it would be appropriate to inscribe on his grave the words, Here lays V.J Mwaanga, a self-confessed drag trafficker’. Using your own newspaper language could your be justifiably written Here lays Fred Mmembe, the open supporter of Sata’s street vendors and dirty cities? (Be ready to enjoy the language you use on others).
Mr Mmembe, it is painful that I , who respected you so much and even delayed commenting on your conduct, should start writing about you like this. It simply has become unbearable to ignore you. Change your position of supporting Sata chi sapote sapote. He is an unreliable ally and will one day make you part of public ridicule.
Winter Kabimba’s useless job solution.
Justice minister Winter Kabimba does not think much. It seems there is a difference between Mmembe’s reason for supporting Sata and Kabimba’s. Mr. Mmembe is a more intelligent man. He only supports Sata in an indirect way (for whatever the reasons) and does not get jobs from him because he knows Sata can fire you any time. Even from his past editorials, Mr. Mmembe knows that Sata is incompetent but praises him because he knows that this is what Sata wants to hear. But Kabimba is not that intelligent. He sincerely believes that Sata is morally upright, capable of working etc.
Kabimba supported street vending by saying that they should stay on till PF finds them jobs. This is utter thoughtlessness. First, the PF or any government under the liberalized economy is not obliged to create state-run factories using tax papers’ money just to create jobs. Government should simply create opportunities such as availability of land, education/training for knowledge and skills, lower interest rates etc so that Zambians should create their own jobs. All these are okay in Zambia. Any Zambian not taking up these opportunities must be left alone to safer. Only the disabled, children or old people etc need extra state care. Secondly, no Zambian government can create jobs for all street vendors. Those street vendors are generally not educated or ageing. If new jobs are available they will most likely go to hundreds of thousands of graduates and school levers. If you are arguing with me, make your company and let us see how many of those street vendors you will employ. Why does Kabimba not employ them to his companies? Sata can not even employ them to clean his six guns! Thirdly, even if PF were to employ all those street vendors, all those in the compounds and villages will come to fill the street vending gap. ‘Why not’, they will argue,’ if Winter Kabimba’s PF gives priority for jobs to those doing street vending, then let us go there so that he will also employ us.’ Fourth, councils are not obliged to give a selling plot to anybody. Councils worldwide simply construct markets enough for inhabitants of a certain location to buy from. They don’t have to look at how many potentials market sellers are there. Then those that afford to pay for the market stalls get them. Period. And so far, to us the buyers the places allocated in compounds by councils are enough. We don’t need more sellers like you vendors. If you did not find a place in town go and sell in the land which you, your parents or grandparents left in the village and sell there. Nobody, simply nobody, is obliged to find a market stall for you. Be responsible and stop sobbing with useless self- pity about tisunga bana bamasiiye. How come myself, I am also a mwana wa masiiye because my father Andrew Mbozi died in 2001 but I sell in my Namayani village? What is so special about you to demand town plots? No country has ever developed by street vending or with that useless PF communistic job-creating rhetoric.
Mwandini Mr Chikwanda. If you get the power as vice President as I recommend , I suggest just remove the street vendors by force; no mercy, no cheap politicking both because it is illegal and immoral and you are under no moral obligation to give jobs or market places to anybody. Besides, you have nothing to lose. You are not a politician but a respectable technocrat.
And you PF, stop listening to Mmembe or you will regret. Already he wants to pretend that he was not part of the street vending problem.