Eight Lusaka mayoral candidates on Tuesday turned up to wrap up their various manifestos ahead of the city’s by-election today, but ruling PF candidate Miles Sampa chose to shun the event.

The debate, which was moderated by Diamond TV CEO Costa Mwansa, touched on issues such as water and sanitation, running of bus stations and markets and recreation, city planning and congestion as well as resource mobilization.

Mwansa informed the audience that Sampa did not give any explanation for his absence.

“We invited the PF, they have not shown up, there is the podium,” said Mwansa, as he pointed at the empty podium that was labelled “PF”.

The debate, however, went on as planned with UPND’s Kangwa Chileshe, PAC’s Mukubesa Mundia, NAREP’s Bwalya Nondo, NDC’s Saboi Imboela, RPP’s Wesley Chikuse, UNIP’s Reverend Alfred Banda, UPP’s Saviour Chishimba and UPPZ’s Madalitso Musukwa making final attempts to woo voters.

Imboela, who is the only female candidate, told voters that her priority was construction of infrastructure as a way of expanding the council’s revenue base.

“For me, I am going to prioritise housing and infrastructure. If you look at my manifesto, that is number one. For me, the council has to continue building houses and continue building other infrastructure like markets so that they are able to rent them out and get money out of it,” pledged Saboi.

Mundia spoke on the need to retain law and order in bus stations, saying it would make more sense to fly Zambian flags there as opposed to political party flags.

“We want to encourage taxi and bus drivers to promote our identity as a country by putting the Zambian flag at their stations instead of political party flags because that’s not our identity,” said Mundia.

UPPZ’s Musukwa, the youngest candidate, spoke passionately about the need to avert inequality by making service delivery to all areas uniform.

“Whether someone is from Kalingalinga or Kabulonga, the value of their vote is the same. So, why should someone in a compound fail to have water and clean toilets?” Musukwa asked.

Musukwa also said time had come for the youth to take up leadership positions.

“The energy is in the youths so this perception that the youth are a ladder to leaders going up, I am saying no! I am speaking for the 66.6 per cent of the population, those who are young, it is the first time they are going to have representation in leadership and I am saying enough is enough. We have been used too much, it is time we stood up in leadership,” urged Musukwa.

Chishimba, who is also president of UPP, stayed true to his anti-corruption crusader-style by promising to take back council resources from the looters.

“The council’s assets are under capture by the looters right now. And I am going to be emotional because I have been dealing with this for the past two years when we launched the ‘bring back our money’ campaign where we have State House, which has now become the centre for corruption and defending corruption…the problem we have as I have said is the capture of Lusaka City Council assets. As mayor, me I have no allegiance to Lungu or the government. My allegiance is to the people who have elected me. The first thing will be to maintain the (asset register)…so that the council can get the rates,” said Chishimba.

UPND’s Chileshe promised to set up a council TV and radio station in order to enhance accountability.

“A lot of my colleagues here were talking about government and blaming government for a lot of things. Costa, the biggest nightmare for the PF on the 26th July is an opposition mayor, that’s the biggest nightmare! When elected mayor of the greater city of Lusaka, I’ll be fully in charge because you are being elected by 7 constituencies and 33 wards of Lusaka. So, you wield power. Therefore, you are able to make the government accountable by creating a council radio, council television and all the things my comrade, Saviour Chishimba, has been talking about, that’s supposed to be privileged knowledge. That’s supposed to be public knowledge and, therefore, the people of Lusaka are going to be aware of how their government is mismanaging their recourses and hold them accountable. So, I will be fully in charge and doing what needs to be done. I will not be blaming government, I will be doing the work,” Kangwa said.

He also promised to, once elected, set up recycling plants in order to generate resources from garbage.

“The creation of recycling plants, I think government has not focused on that so I will focus on recycling plants in order to use garbage as a business. So, many countries are doing it, Japan is doing it, other countries around the world are doing it,” said Kangwa.

Rev Banda of UNIP said his vision was to offer better service delivery.

“My vision is to offer better service delivery to the residents of Lusaka. I have come up with a 10 point-plan, I think we need to quickly accelerate the issues of service delivery and development in our city. Year in and year out, our city and townships are flooded, we need to have an efficient drainage design that will drain the water from our CBD (Central Business District) area and from our townships when it rains. Productivity is affected when it rains,” observed Rev Banda.

And RPP’s Chikuse said he would ensure every Lusaka resident had access to clean water.

“My approach would be to have water reticulation, ensuring that every resident in Lusaka has access to clean water, working in the sewer, ensuring that every person is connected to a sewer system, properly localised waste management system by ensuring that there is citizen participation,” said Chikuse.

Meanwhile, NAREP’s Nondo wondered why the report on the City Market fire had not yet been released.

“We need to get to the bottom of who burnt the market and learn some lessons. If they are criminals, we put them behind bars. If we had learnt from the City Market fire, COMESA market wouldn’t have gotten burnt either,” said Nondo, who also implored Lusaka residents to give chance to a young party to be in office.