Ministry of Local Government and Housing Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga says under the newly signed Statutory Instrument, it is punishable by law for any person to buy products from a street vendor.

On February 2, 2018, Minister of Local Government Vincent Mwale signed SI number 10 of 2018 to amend penalties for 22 offences contained in Statutory Instrument number 54 of 1992 by increasing the penalty fees as well as introducing new offences, which include throwing litter from a moving car.

Malupenga told News Diggers! in an interview that his ministry arrived at the decision to amend the law in order to strengthen efforts aimed at preventing the Cholera outbreak from recurring.

The Permanent Secretary said government realised that it was illogical to ban vending without introducing a law that prohibited members of the public from buying products from vendors.

“You know that there are soldiers in town right now but those soldiers will not be there forever. So we need to have a mindset change to ensure that we police ourselves, we don’t need to have the presence of soldiers to remind us that we need to be clean. So these measures are meant to remind us continuously that we must be clean. So from now, it will be offence even to buy from a street vendor. Previously we were just targeting those who are selling in the streets but we were forgetting that those who were selling were going there because there was market for their goods. So we thought that to address the issue of street vending, let’s look at this on both sides by killing the market and discouraging vendors, so from now, the one buying will be just as liable as the one who is selling,” Malupenga said.

“Just like a trend of someone driving their vehicle and they are throwing litter through windows but who is going to clean that litter? So now those who are operating buses and taxes, they are obliged by the new law to ensure that they provide bins in those buses. If you go in the compounds you will realise that there is this idea of selling tomatoes, onions just in front of one’s yard, is very common. Now, some of the diseases that people suffer, they are picked from such trading places and so the new law is saying for you to do that, you need to have authority from the council and then the council will have to visit your house and inspect your premises. If they think that the area meets the standards then they allow you to go ahead. And then again there are others in compounds who just put a sack on the ground and put their tomatoes there for sale but the new law dictates that if you are going to do that, it has to be on a raised stand or table. So all those new laws that have been introduced are just there to ensure that we observe cleanliness and hygiene to avoid diseases, not only cholera but even other communicable diseases.”

He said the recent Cholera outbreak forced government to come up with stringent measures.

“Of course the cholera outbreak sort of triggered everything because you know that the main driver of cholera is lack of hygiene and when you look at the way those offences are structured [in the SI], those are ways that are likely to transmit or bring about these problems. That is why after we dealt with the issue of street vendors, cleaning up the streets, we want to make it known that it’s not just Cairo road which should be cleaned, we literally have to go to where we are coming from in our homes and our compounds,” said Malupenga.

“We have to stop future occurrences of cholera because if Soweto market is cleaned today but in our homes we are not observing hygiene then cholera will start from Kabulonga, Kalingalinga and not Soweto market because that place is clean. So these measures are meant to ensure that we observe cleanliness and to avoid epidemics like cholera and any other diseases that come about as a result of unhygienic conditions.”