Local Government minister Charles Banda has disclosed that government has no money to rebuild the gutted Lusaka City Market, explaining that companies that made false donations towards the cause cannot be pursued to pay because a pledge is not a debt.

Banda was speaking in parliament, Tuesday, in response to a question from independent member of parliament for Nangoma, Boyd Hamusonde, who wanted to find out when the reconstruction of the Lusaka City Market, which was gutted by fire in July, 2017, would commence and what caused the delay after government assurance that the Market would be reconstructed within six weeks.

The minister noted that the commencement of the reconstruction of the Lusaka City Market has not yet been set owing to non-availability of funds

“Mr Speaker, in response to the question raised by the member, I wish to inform this August House that commencement date for the reconstruction of the Lusaka city market has not yet been set. The availability of funds has been the main challenge. Government is in the process of engaging NAPSA for possible financing of the project,” he explained.

And in response to a question from the Leader of Opposition, Jack Mwiimbu, who asked about the donations made, Banda noted that pledges towards the construction of the market were not fulfilled.

“Pledges were made, except most of the pledges where not honoured. Mr speaker, for instance, I have some information where even some mining companies came up to say they are going to reconstruct that market but they haven’t come forward up to this day. So a pledge when not fulfilled is difficult for us to begin a project. We have no finances as of now to commence the reconstruction of the Lusaka city market, if those pledges had been honoured in total, the project could have started,” he added.

And when asked whether the ministry had done any analysis to find out why the people who had pledged were not fulfilling their pledges, Banda explained that no follow ups were made, as some pledges were just done for the sake of publicity

“Mr Speaker, we have not done any analysis, except that we do understand that when people make pledges, it depends on the circumstances. There are certain people that make pledges to be seen that they are with you at that time but the moment they leave the stage they find that they are not able to fulfil the pledge that they have made. These things happen in several occasions where people just want to be heard maybe that they have pledged and they don’t even mean what they have said. So that could be one of the things that maybe people wanted to identify themselves with the calamity but knowing that they didn’t have the capacity. A pledge is not a debt and you cannot force them to pay,” explained Banda.

The minister further explained that he would get back to the House with figures on how much was donated and the total amount of pledges were made.