Local Government Minister Vincent Mwale says President Edgar Lungu got involved in the removal of vendors from the streets of Lusaka because cadres are too powerful to be handled by council police.
And Mwale says the cholera epidemic is a window of opportunity that has presented itself for government to get rid of cadres running markets and bus stations.
Responding to concerns raised by a caller identified as Bwalya Phiri when he featured on a Diamond Television programme dubbed Costa on Sunday, Mwale said lamented that the Lusaka City Council (LCC) was understaffed
“Iyi problem ya Cholera ba minister mwalefya ukuti icitike pantu mwalibalekela ama cadres baleta ifiko ifingi mu town elo muleloshakofye kwati tamwikala mu Zambia (This problem of cholera you let it happen minister because you allowed cadres to bring a lot of garbage into town while you watched as though you don’t live in Zambia). Bushe tamumfwa insoni ngamwaya kuma countries yabanenu mwansanga kuli clean (don’t you feel ashamed when you go to towns in other countries and see how clean they are?)” asked Phiri.
“Namucita contribute kuli cholera imwe, elo mulesumina tapali nefyo mukana imwe mwalibulile ama cadres imwe mwabesusha fulu mu town (Minster you have also contributed to this cholera problem s government because you allowed your cadres to take over the town centre and fill it with garbage and when you are wrong, just accept because there is nothing you are refusing here. The other problem we have is that the Lusaka City Council has no say about town and you cadres can treat them however they like because they (cadres) even beat up council workers whenever they want.”
In response, Mwale admitted that cadres were a problem.
“The issue of cadres has always been a problem from the time UNIP existed, from the MMD time and also this time around. Cadres have had to over step and the problem is that local authorities are always thinking to themselves to say what do we do because these are are political cadres and they are powerful. It had to take the Head of State to make sure that all these cartels are dealt with, I have admitted that and going forward, this is a problem we must address, we must not allow that to come back. I have accepted that this is a problem and she (Bwalya) is right when she says that we’ve all been passing in Lusaka and we’ve been seeing this dirt but I am telling you now that government is doing everything to make this right,” Mwale said.
He said no one feared council police because they did not even carry guns.
“We will not allow to have a situation that we have had (where cadres had taken over the running of markets) to come back because everyone has learnt a lesson, including cadres now they know that they can die from Cholera. So this a window of opportunity that has presented itself because first of all, how were we going to remove those people at once because council police has over 200 council police officers but no one fears them because they don’t even carry guns. So whether with cholera or no cholera it needed policemen and soldiers to deal with that problem. And this time around, the council will have to take charge of everything before we bring any trader back to the streets and there will be nothing like cadres, we want council to take care of everything,” he said.
And Mwale said government would decentralize LCC to ensure that each constituency had its own civic centre.
“The council hasn’t been doing so well because they don’t have enough staff to manage the whole city of Lusaka and I think even the Head of State did express some anger. But I can tell you one thing, we had to put in a lot of planning to make sure that whatever is going to be introduced must be well founded. Since I became Local Government Minister, I have dealt the issue of coming up with a utility system and the decentralization of LCC. So within Lusaka, we are going to have each constituency having its own civic centre to take care of the welfare in that constituency. Matero is huge, the population of that constituency is bigger than some of the districts out there but look, it has to depend on one civic centre. Now, if you add Kanyama then Chawama…Lusaka is so big to have one civic centre,” said Mwale.