Local Government Minister Vincent Mwale says the issue of cadres running markets and bus stations will not end unless all parties accept that it is not a Patriotic Front problem and work together to find solutions.
And Ikelengi UPND member of parliament Elijah Muchima has advised the Ministry of Local Government to allow the Zambia Revenue Authority to collect revenue on their behalf.
Meanwhile, Mazabuka central UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo says markets are unfriendly towards opposition members such that he has to move with a gun to avoid being attacked.
They were debating the Report of the Committee on Local Governance, Housing and Chiefs’ Affairs for the Third Session of the Twelfth National Assembly, laid on the Table of the House on 14th June, 2019. The report has since been adopted by the House.
Mwale, who is also Chipangali MP, said the issue of cadres running bus stations dated back to independence.
“The issue of cadres running our markets, let me say Madam Speaker, that this is our problem. This is our problem, all of us sitting in here. This is not a PF problem, this is not a UPND problem, this is not a UNIP or MMD problem, this is our problem. This problem has been experienced since independence and if we actually proceed in the manner in which we are proceeding now, where we are seeing this as a PF problem, or a UPND, it means if we don’t collapse our political interests as political players in this matter, we will never resolve this matter. So we must all agree that this is our problem and not one political party’s problem. We want to resolve this problem, we want to make sure that we have markets and bus stations that are run professionally that will make all of us happy,” Mwale said.
“Of course taking into account what the Minister of Home Affairs has said that ‘yes there will be youths that will be useful in the doing of all sorts of small things like loading and so on but they should not be affiliated to political parties’. They must be youth that are looking to earn a living. We will not run away from that. But to say that we must impose ourselves as political parties to manage these things, then I think that this problem will not be resolved. But let me just give you comfort, Madam Speaker and the House that as a way of getting away from this, we have now employed the use of ICTs in the collection of levies in these markets.”
He said it would be more desirable for councils to be managed by boards.
“The Bus Stations Act of 2017 provides for 2 options, that a bus station and market can either be operated by a council or the council can put up a board that can operate on its behalf and I think the past 12 years, we have been implementing the approach of the council running these markets but now we want to try the other approach. Imagine Lusaka City Council with more than 200 markets in Lusaka having to run all the markets and maybe you 4 or 5 people at the council. So we want to try having boards in place that can run and micro-manage these markets on behalf of the council and maybe we can see a different scenario,” said Mwale.
And Muchima advised the Ministry of Local Government to allow the Zambia Revenue Authority to collect revenue on their behalf.
“I went to Mwinilunga bus station; the PF cadres have taken over and are collecting from bus stops. That money is supposed to go to the councils to enhance their operations. When you go to any bus stop you, find cadres have taken over. If local government has failed to collect this revenue for the local authorities, let it become revenue collected by the ZRA because they are quite rough and tough and will collect every ngwee than to allow hooliganism in the bus stops,” suggested Muchima.
And adding to the debate, Nkombo observed that markets were unfriendly to opposition members.
“The challenges which are highlighted in the report are not insurmountable because all they require is the Ministry of Home Affairs, who are the enforcers of the law, to swing into action full stop. The way things are going in this country, in these 2 institutions, I called it a den of illegality, it is one of those areas where fundamental human rights and freedoms of an individual are always interfered with. The freedom of movement, the freedom of conscious, Madam, even a person like me who is fairly well known by PF cadres, if I go into any of those locations, I must make sure that I have my little friend, gun or firearm, in my pocket because life is uncertain there so that if anyone tries to harass me, I will use that little friend of mine to defend myself. Now how many people have little friends to walk with in markets and bus stations? Anybody who is not PF is endangered in those 2 areas and that’s a fact. And so the answer is simple, follow the law,” said Nkombo.
But Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo suggested that Nkombo was exaggerating matters.
“I want to just clear the notion that intercity and other bus stations are a hub of criminals and you know, Madam Speaker, we are an African state and when we are making comparisons, it’s only fair to make comparisons as a continent. Yes indeed we have youths who do a number of activities in these bus stations just like any other bus station in the African continent. Go to Park Station in Johannesburg and many others in South Africa, Zimbabwe and everywhere. You will find these activities of youths that do all sorts of activities. And what we have one as government is to engage stakeholders on how to see the act that the minister (local government) is overlooking can be implemented but what is not true is to try and portray a picture that there is lawlessness in these stations. I heard the honourable member for Mazabuka actually stating that all the money that is collected by bus stations goes to the call boys or the PF which is not correct. And let us learn to be sincere, its only fair for people of our status to be honest in our discourse. So madam speaker, what is true is yes we have our youths and I don’t think buses would have continued to operate if the situation was indeed in the manner the honourable member for Mazabuka and other members were exaggerating because we have seen growth in the sector. And I don’t think that growth would have been witnessed if indeed we have got this group of boys who just collect money from these operators in that fashion,” said Kampyongo.