Alliance for Democracy and Development president Charles Milupi says government should release money to pay for all public school going children whose parents have been banned from doing business in Lusaka twon.
Commenting on government’s decision to reopen all public schools on Monday following the successful measures put in place to arrest the spread of the cholera epidemic, Milupi wondered where government was expecting people to get the money to send their children back to school.
“I think the first thing to say is that this cholera epidemic has exposed the PF government as being a government of no plan and I think they take decisions on the whim. It’s only when they see reactions of the people that they change. Cholera first appeared last year in September when there were no rains and I remember them canceling the UPND rally in Kanyama. To any right thinking government, that should have given them a very big warning that come rainy season, we are going to have a major problem. But they didn’t do anything about it and they continued to plunder the resources. Their focus was on sealing up their already full pockets instead of realising that the cholera situation would be a big problem since it showed up in the dry season,” Milupi said.
“So this whole government went to sleep, it wasn’t just the Lusaka Mayor who went to sleep but the whole administration from the President going downwards. When cholera came, it was as if they didn’t know that this could happen when all the signs were there and we see them now tackling the results of cholera instead of tackling the root causes. It’s not the tables you sent soldiers to destroy that cause cholera, it’s not schools that cause cholera but the unsanitary conditions in most of these public places. There are no public toilets in Lusaka and the water is not clean. Even if they carry out these temporary measures, cholera will always come back.”
Milupi observed that chasing people away from the streets was not a solution to combating cholera.
“Merely chasing away people that are trading is not a solution to cholera, what we should have seen happening is for government to tell us that where people trade, we are going to have toilets? Right now, they should have declared a public emergency and immediately purchased mobile toilets for traders to use instead of chasing them away and also providing enough chlorinated water for these traders so that cholera is arrested. But no, they have gone to chase traders from their only source of income. Now from nowhere we have heard that schools are going to reopen next week, but how? Because most of the children who go to public schools are not people living in Kabulonga or State House, their parents are the ones who trade in the streets and you have chased them, you have thrown away their tables and merchandise, where are they going to get school fees to pay suddenly?” Milupi wondered.
“So accompanying that decision [of chasing vendors] to reopening, government should accept that people’s livelihood has been massively disturbed and they should direct resources to say this term no body will pay any fees, government will handle that. We want children to got to school but where are they going to get the fees to pay in the middle of the month? And you have chased away the vendors from the streets where they earn their living and the whole of this month they have not been able to trade, they have been trying to put money on the table and you suddenly say schools are going to open.”