Alliance for Community Action executive director Laura Miti has asked Lusaka Mayoral candidates to address serious challenges of poor sanitation in the compounds instead of promising free wifi.

Meanwhile, Zitukule Consotium executive director Nicholas Phiri has charged that President Edgar Lungu is a violent man and that is why his followers keep attacking members of the opposition.

Speaking when the duo featured on UNZA Radio’s Lusaka Star, Monday, Miti said instead of promising free wifi, mayoral candidates should be focussed on what Lusaka residents really need, like improved service delivery in compounds.

“I think the main focus of the new mayor, if they happen to be opposition, is not really working with the ruling party. It is delivering services, you would expect that in a functioning democracy. The fact that the two must work together is understood. What the new mayor needs to understand is first of all, ask the question ‘what is it that is ailing Lusaka? What is broken about Lusaka, what is it that the people of Lusaka want?’ And one of the biggest problems that Lusaka is facing is simply the one of revenue collection. Lusaka city should be an extremely resourced council. It should have a lot of money. In fact, it should be a little bit of a donor to other councils. But the problem we have in Lusaka, first of all is that revenue is not collected. If you look at the auditor generals report, it is in million, the revenue that the council is not collecting. To use simple examples, the amount of money that is raise up at the bus stations everyday and the amount of money raise in markets, it ends up in private people’s pockets of cadres of the ruling party. That needs to end because if the money that is available ends up in the coffers of the council, the council is now able to deliver services,” Miti said.

“But the bigger problem with revenue collection is actual expenditure. The management of the resources. Unless we citizens can see, we residents of Lusaka can see that the money we are paying via rates, via licenses or other ways such as the bill boards and many other ways, if we could begin to see it change lives, revenue collection becomes easier. The problem with collecting revenue in this city and generally in this country, the reason why the talk is so difficult, is because the money does arrive, it ends up going out through all kinds of holes and does not change lives. So, what I would say about the mayor is that, for me I would like them to start from the bottom. You need to lift this city from the bottom and what I mean by the bottom I mean start from the townships. That is where the worst services are. Those of us who live ku ma Kabulonga, ku Munali, ku Roma, our lives are not so bad. The biggest problems in this country is mumakomboni (in compounds). If you can collect garbage, and I’m taking about simple things ivi vinangu vamene batiuza vama wifi, tiyeni tilindile (these other promises they are making about Wi-Fi, lets put them on hold). Start with simple things with start with the very poorest. Collect their garbage, give them toilets, give them water. We want a council which speaks to the people.”

Miti said cholera would break out again this year because the local government had failed to challenges of lack of toilets in compounds.

“We want a mayor who understand what the biggest problem in this city is and which affects the majority of the people. The majority people live in the townships. At the weekend I went to Leopards Hill cemetery for a burial. I could not believe what is going on there. You have alcohol being sold, openly, ma junta (sachets of spirits), there are so many drunk young men it looks like you are at a bar. But then they begin to disrupt burials. It is simple things like that. For example, we don’t have street lights but I wouldn’t love to have street light knowing that we are going to have cholera again this year. Why? It’s not because of garbage. Garbage is not the biggest problem we have in this country. The biggest problem is that citizens do not have toilets. And then they don’t have water. So, the people in compound will dig a well next to a shallow pit-latrine. The range of candidates is actually impressive. And if we really decide to vote for ourselves, the we will develop,” said Miti.

And Phiri observed that PF cadres were violent because they had President Lungu’s blessings.

“This election is an opportunity for Lusaka residents to be a trendsetter. Let us set a trend and mediocre public service delivery as something we are happy about in this great city of Lusaka. Surprise these violent people. The leaders of political parties in the country are violent. Look [Joseph] Kabila has never thrown a panga at a civilian, it is his followers and he encourages them to do so. It is the same here, Edgar Lungu is a violent man. That does not mean that you will see him with a panga but the fact that his followers are violent means that he is violent. We never experience violence during the Mwanawasa time. It was unheard of because Mwanawasa himself would rebuke those who were violent including minister. President Lungu does not do that so surprise them through your votes. Let us send a message to the local authority. If you are happy with the current service delivery, then vote for the current leadership but if you are not happy with what is happening currently then this is your chance to tell them that you cannot take us for granted,” said Phiri.