Lusaka Mayor Miles Sampa says council police have become too many and as such, he wants them to be kept busy by joining in the cleaning of the city.
And Sampa says the council officers have no right to harass or physically manhandle street vendors.
Meanwhile, Sampa, who is former Matero member of parliament, says he will consider contesting a parliamentary seat again if people say they want him back.
In an interview, Sampa said he wanted council police to be cleaning the city as a way of keeping them busy, but noted that he was facing resistance from within the municipality.
He explained that good progress had been made on cleaning up the city, but bemoaned the poor mindset that inhibited sustained cleanliness.
“I am sure you saw the ‘Ubusaka’ campaign that I launched recently. But I think the biggest challenge is to change the mindset of not only residents of Lusaka, but also that of employees of the Lusaka City Council. For instance, I was being told that Council police cannot clean the city because their job is not cleaning, but that their job description is just to ensure safety in the city, not cleaning. But I don’t believe in that, I believe that everyone who is available should be able to clean when need arises, and more so now that we have got too many Council police and there has been a public outcry on the issue of them allegedly mishandling street vendors,” Sampa said.
“So in the process, I have been thinking of ways of keeping them busy and I thought cleaning would be one way for them to empty garbage and all that. But the mindset in the Council, they tell me that that’s not their job description, so progress is not as fast as I want because progress of the employees of the Council and the general public is not very supportive at the moment. There is need for mindset change, even me, I have gone to clean, I have not said I am Mayor, therefore, I can’t be cleaning, but some are refusing within the Council that it’s not their job!”
Sampa condemned the beating up of street vendors by Lusaka City Council officers.
“What is very true is that street vending is illegal, according to the Local Government Act, and it was identified as one of the major causes of dirty environment in the city, causing cholera in the previous year. It’s good that so far so good, we have kept Cholera away from the city. But I must mention that the Council police must deal with street vendors in a humane way, they should not start beating up people and brutalising them,” Sampa said.
“Yes, they (Council police) have the right to arrest those who are breaking the law, but they have no right to start brutalising them! They should just arrest them if they have committed an offence without any physical harassment. If they are found beating up people, I would even be the one to testify against them because I don’t support such kind of behaviour. So, we are doing everything possible to ensure that we don’t have continued reports of people being harassed by the Council police, because that’s not their work.”
And Sampa said it was too early for people to judge his performance as he had only been in office for four months.
“I have only been Mayor of Lusaka for four months; it’s too early to judge my performance within this short period of time. Even Rome was not built in one day. But I can tell you that looking at my performance right now, I am on the right track and by 2021, if you come and ask me about my performance, I will come and ‘sonta’ (point) at what I would have done for you. I will do massively well such that some of the critics will be embarrassed, but people who genuinely want development will be impressed,” Sampa said.
Meanwhile, Sampa also said would consider re-contesting as MP for his former Matero constituency in the 2021 general election.
“I will discuss that when we reach 2021, for now I want to focus on work of making sure that the city of Lusaka is well taken care of. But maybe when that time comes, I may decide to contest as MP, I may go back to Matero or anywhere else if people tell me that they want me to represent them as MP once more, and contest. However, we shall cross that bridge when we reach there, for now it’s time to work,” said Sampa.