Local Government Minister Vincent Mwale says government has partnered with the National Pensions Scheme Authority (NAPSA) and the German government to construct new markets to curb street vending across the country.

And Mwale says local authorities will continue penalizing individuals involved in street vending because making the culprits pay will serve as a deterrent to would-be offenders.

Responding to Mumbwa UPND member of parliament Credo Nanjuwa ,who wanted to know if the Ministry had issued any circular to the local authorities to stop abuse of authority by the police so that vendors could trade freely, Mwale said the permanent solution to street vending was to construct new markets.

“I have observed that most of the solutions that you are providing are highly concentrated on Lusaka. But the police brutality and harassment of vendors is across the country and the people of Mumbwa are equally affected. So, what I want to find out from you, Honourable Minister, is have you issued a circular to the local authorities or you will issue a circular so that this abuse of authority by the police can come to an end so that our people can trade freely?” Nanjuwa asked.

In his response, Mwale said government had partnered with NAPSA and the German government to construct new markets across the country.

“Mr Speaker, the circular has been issued to all councils guiding them on how to handle this matter. But the long-term solution, of course, is to construct markets and I have said that we are going to construct markets in all the districts in the country. This is happening in Southern Province and other markets are being constructed in Eastern Province. To achieve this, we have partnered with NAPSA and the German government. Some councils are actually using CDF (Constituency Development Funds), while some are using Equalisation Funds to construct new markets. The solutions are for the whole country and the circular has been circulated to the whole country,” Mwale said.

And asked by the Choma UPND member of parliament Cornelius Mweetwa who wanted to know if the Ministry, through local authorities would stop penalizing people found trading from the streets, Mwale insisted that financial penalties would serve as an effective deterrent.

“Mr Speaker, such amounts are used as deterrents because the aim is not to encourage street vendors to be in those areas. But the problem with the Council was actually aiming for that. By the way, the maximum amount is K499, which is still too high for the poor women you are just describing. But the aim is that it’s supposed to be a deterrent and at the same time, local authorities are supposed to provide alternative spaces, which are actually being shunned. So, what we are saying is that councils, together with the people, must find common solutions and not go for the maximum or that full force; they should only do that when the people involved decide knowingly so to disregard the law. But they must actually be warned several times before we can reach that conclusion of making them pay. But it has to be there as a deterrent,” said Mwale.