Cholera cannot end by just deploying soldiers to pick papers, says Patriots for Economic Progress leader Sean Tembo.

And Tembo says although the Mayor of Lusaka Wilson Kalumba may have done a few things wrong, calls for resignation must be directed at Minister of Local Government Vincent Mwale who is the policy maker.

Speaking when he featured on Radio Phoenix’ Let the People Talk programme Tuesday, Tembo said the cause of Cholera in Lusaka was shortage of clean drinking water and lack of free public toilets for traders.

“In Lusaka, the biggest contributor to cholera is the issue of lack of clean water. That is number one. Number two is lack of sanitation facilities. If you go to town you will find that there are very few public toilets around town and those few public toilets which are there are quite expensive. You will find that people are being charged as much as K3 for one visit to the toilet. And if you are a street vendor, you are selling groundnuts or biscuits, you need to go to the toilet maybe three, four times in a day. So multiply those four times by K3 that is K12 plus transport money, lunch money and yet you are going to town to sell groundnuts. Is that sustainable?” Tembo asked.

“It’s not. So people are forced, instead of using those public toilets, they will use packets of shake shake, they will defecate in those packets of shake shake and throw them on the side street. There’s no way cholera can end like that.”

Tembo advised government to put up free public toilets instead of paying allowances to defence wings who were “picking papers” around town.

“When you look at the issue of lack of access to clean drinking water, we have had water shortages in this city for a very long time. Water comes for an hour in a day. So what has happened is that people are sinking boreholes. There are a lot of boreholes around Lusaka and the water table around Lusaka is polluted, contaminated due to the rising number of pit latrines especially in highly populated areas and people are drinking contaminated water. So that is why even the approach of government of sending defence forces to say go and clean up town, when you look at the amount of money being spent on allowances for those defence forces, it is a lot of money. If that money could be gotten, because cholera can not end by picking papers like what the defence forces are doing. You can’t pick up papers around Lusaka and expect cholera to finish. If government was thinking properly, they should have got that money and build a number of toilets around town,” Tembo said.

“So before you decide to clean up town you need to understand what causes town to be dirty that way when you address the problem from that point of view you are going to ensure that once you clean town it will remain clean. Otherwise if you don’t understand what causes town to be as dirty as it is, you will clean it up today, tomorrow it will be dirty again. What makes town dirty is not necessary street vendors, it is the fact that we have too many people in town and too little sanitary facilities.”

And Tembo said although Kalumba did a few things wrong, calls for resignation should be directed at Mwale because he is the policy maker.

“There are certain things that the mayor might have not done properly but I believe in objectivity, I can’t blame someone for something that they are powerless about. Based on the structure of the governance of this country, I think the mayor has very little influence in terms of dictating policy. If anybody needs to resign in this issue it should be the minister of local government. Because when you look at the role of local authorities countrywide, they play a small role in terms of formulation of policy as well as implementation of policy. In terms of resources they depend heavily on the central government. Perhaps the mayor has under performed but in terms of the power that he has to be able to influence policy, it’s not about the actual operations, it’s about policy,” said Tembo.