Patriotic Front cadres and armed police officers today conducted a screening process for street vendors who are being allocated trading spaces at Lusaka’s City market.
Meanwhile, cadres almost pounced on journalists who wanted to get pictures of the exercise, saying they had instructions not to allow anyone with cameras near or inside the market.
A check at City Market found the main entrance closed and vendors seated on the corridors while others on the queue waiting to be screened and allocated trading stands.
Vendors interviewed expressed shock that PF cadres were allowed to conduct the screening excercise in full view of police.
“When we came in the morning, we found police officers and some cadres who told us that ‘today is a screening day’. They told us to leave our names and that tomorrow on the 18 (January 2018), we shall gather here or Civic Centre so that we are given trading stands,” one vendor explained in a low voice as he feared being heard by the ruling party cadres.
“We are told that the minister gave a directive yesterday that all foreigners who were trading illegally will not be given stands. But what has shocked us that the PF are the ones doing this screening exercise. How can we trust this process? How can we trust that they will not come back to grab the stands from us even when we prove that we are Zambians?”
Another vendor said: “We are not going to have a fair screening process because only those powerful cadres will share amongst themselves. We wanted officials from the City Council or ministry of local government to be the ones screening us not these.”
And when this reporter tried to get pictures of the screening process, some PF cadres waylaid him, threatening beat him.