Intercity Bus Terminus PF ‘commander’ Francis Muchemwa alias “America 2” has denied allegations that ruling party supporters have taken over the running of markets and bus stations, saying they only charge for helping to load passengers and cargo.
Speaking when called-in to Hot FM’s Red Hot Breakfast Show, Thursday, Muchemwa explained how he and other PF supporters had been earning a living out of helping to load buses in Lusaka’s Intercity Bus Terminus, among other stations.
“I think I need to give a lot of clarity to so many things that have been said because I have been listening to this show. When you talk about who controls Intercity, Intercity is being controlled by the Council and all the earnings at the station go straight to the Council. Now, when you look at the people that are found at Intercity, there are groupings of people. We’ve got boys working on the buses, if they load a bus, they get something and then share that money as a group in what we call ‘Ichilimba’. So, that’s what happens there actually,” Muchemwa explained.
Asked how he and his friends found themselves at Intercity, Muchemwa said the gang had been there way back before PF even got into power.
“Let me try and put something straight, we’ve been working from the station even before we came into power. We found ourselves there because that is where we have been working. So, whoever is found there [at Intercity], it’s people who are working on the buses. We are a group of people who have teamed up together to work together and see how best we can try to help one another, that’s how we work. Nobody put us there,” he said.
Asked if he is affiliated to the PF and if people from other political parties were also allowed to operate from the stations, Muchemwa answered in the affirmative to both questions.
“I am 100 per cent affiliated [to PF] because I support the party and, yes, we do allow them [other political party cadres], and if I may ask you, do you know the people who are loading the buses in Mazabuka and Choma? Those are UPND cadres manning those stations! So, if you say that do you allow other people from other political parties to do what we do, yes, we do allow because you may not know who is PF and UPND when you work in the stations because nobody is putting (on) any regalia. We are all just coming there to work as a working place,” he narrated.
Muchemwa further dispelled allegations of harassment in bus stations, saying the cadres were earning money uprightly and not out of duping or intimidating people.
“I think people must be more specific when they bring up such kind of an allegation…When a bus is loading in Intercity, I will give a very good example; if Juldan Motors, maybe, is supposed to pay about K250 for a gate pass, the money is paid through a bank and it’s only collected by the Council in their account. So, obviously, there is no one who is collecting the money. So, if we’ve got about, maybe, five boys who are loading the Juldan Bus in the morning, they get what they call ‘call-boy’ and this thing has been there from way back since 1960 or something…when you load a bus and they give you something like a K200, that K200 is shared amongst the call-boys. So, there is no money that is earned out of harassment, it’s money coming out of people working for a particular bus. So, I don’t think our presence at Intercity is intimidating in any way. It’s just that when people say that you are a cadre, they think you are thug, they think you are thief! But get a clear definition of a cadre, it has got a very good meaning,” Muchemwa explained.