Minister of Local Government Vincent Mwale says the ban on street vending is still in effect and it will not be lifted.
And Mwale has warned vendors not to attempt going back on the streets, saying they will be “fished out”.
Last week, PF Secretary General Davies Mwila expressed concern over council police’s harassment of street vendors.
“All of us know what is happening with the vendors. Vendors are being beaten too much by the police. This issue is de-campaigning us so much. Street vending, for those who have been to South Africa, vending is there. How can someone who is selling cooking sticks bring cholera? So you councilors, can you call for an emergency council meeting, you sign and deliberate on this matter on the way you will handle the street vendors. Street vendors are being beaten too much. [Imagine] the police chasing a street vendor who is selling groundnuts and they grab the groundnuts from him and beat him! I think those police officers are from the council and it is you [councillors] who are running the councils,” said Mwila who further advised Lusaka Mayor Miles Sampa to use his power to protect the welfare of vendors and also called on the local authority to find means of letting the vendors trade.
“Tell the mayor, he is the head of the council; he must deal with this matter as quickly as possible…When you are given a position, you have to use your authority. Even you the constituency chairman, you have the authority, don’t look like a branch chairman…You can remove vendors in Cairo road and the next road but in other roads…because jobs are not enough. Whilst we have a programme to create jobs for our people…at the moment, some of our people don’t have means. Those are the people who voted for us, there are very few who eat well and vote for us, it is the poor people.”
But Mwale told News Diggers that the ban on street vending was still in effect and that anyone who would be found vending in undesignated places would be dealt with.
“But what I can tell you is that the ban on street vending remains effective, the ban on street vending as imposed through Statutory Instrument No. 12 of 2018 is still effective, we are not backtracking on that. We will actually not allow street vendors to go back to the streets and we will still send the council police to take the out except that we will have to do that in a humane way. And I think that I understand the secretary general advising councillors to speak, I don’t think that he was imposing or he was giving a directive to government but he was talking to councillors and telling them ‘can you go and deliberate and find more spaces for street vendors’,” Mwale said.
“So the ban is still effective, we are not lifting it, we have not lifted it and we want the vendors to go back to the markets where they can trade from, the markets that are empty in our compounds and the makeshift markets that we have made for them such as the Tokyo one and Burma Road market. So they are not allowed to go back to the streets and they will not go back to the streets and if they go back to the streets, we are actually going to take them out except we will handle them differently. So the ban stands.”
He equally expressed concern over the harassment of traders by council police.
“I understood the secretary general very well. I listened to the recording. I think there are two points that the secretary general made which I actually agree with. [On] the first [point], he was expressing concern over the treatment that is given to these street vendors by the people that control or take them out of the streets through the operations. They are harassed, their merchandise [gets] confiscated at the same time and in some cases beaten, some cases are taken to court while others are taken to the police and they take longer than necessary and so on,” Mwale said.
“I think the harassment is what the secretary general is mostly concerned with and I agree with the secretary general that we actually have to treat these people with a lot of care and in a humane way. In fact, I can tell you that in January when I heard these reports of how these people are mistreated, I actually called the mayor and the man who is in charge of the operations to come to my office and we discussed at length with the Lusaka Town Clerk and that we needed to change our approach.”
He said an alternative temporary trading place for street vendors had already been identified on Simon Mwewa Lane as government was still waiting for the completion of the nearby market.
“…the second point that he made is that we can consider finding some streets where we can allow these people to trade because it happens all over the world. I think that on that one as well, we have already made plans, we have discussed with the council that where we are constructing Simon Mwewa market, between the Simoson building and the market, that lane, we are actually going to open it up to street vendors. And once we finish the Simon Mwewa market…[it] is going to have more than 62 toilets so that those that will be trading and those that will be coming to buy can use those toilets. So that portion of the lane between Simon Mwewa and Simoson building will be opened up [for vending]. I think that we already have a plan for that,” said Mwale.