Lusaka Province Patriotic Front chairman Paul Moonga says the party provincial executive has agreed to open a night vendor’s market along Lumumba Road, which will be operational from 16:00 hours to morning. According to Mr Moonga, his party decided to allow street vending at night to serve both the money-hungry traders and the white-collar customers who feel shy to walk into high-density market places to shop.

Paul MOONGA: “As provincial executive committee, we have agreed that the vendors can come in the streets only along Lumumba Road at 16:00 hours because vendors are actually caused by you people who are smart, you don’t like going to the markets. People who are educated do not want to go into the markets. White-collar people like buying from the vendors. So, I am saying to those white-collar people, we have opened a market for you in the evening because you don’t want to go into the markets. You are the ones that are encouraging vending. For the vendors, we know that everybody wants money, but we have also observed that if you want to vend, let them vend around 16:00 hours up to morning and then leave the streets. If they want to sell in the streets, let them sell the whole night. Let them create a night market if they so wish.”

This statement came with all the ingredients of a policy announcement, except it was not coming from any government office, but a provincial wing of the ruling party. So, we have been left wondering how a provincial party executive can sit and make policy decisions on behalf of the Ministry of Local Government and the Lusaka City Council. Is this normal?

Who attended that provincial executive meeting? Was the Minister of Local Government present, or his Permanent Secretary and his technocrats perhaps? Was the Mayor or his deputy or the council executive in attendance? What did the Director of Public Health say in that meeting regarding this night vending policy, because he must be concerned about cholera breaking out again this September? Which toilet facilities will the night vendors and their customers use? Shake Shake packs? And who will be responsible for collecting that filth in the morning?

We are asking these questions because Mr Moonga’s announcement leaves a lot of unanswered questions. We would like to know who will be responsible for security at this night-vending market. Is it the Zambia Police, the Council Police or the PF militia?

Who gave the Patriotic Front this power to make policy decisions? Since when did the Patriotic Front become the government of the Republic of Zambia? Yes, we know that the law allows the government of the day to implement policies of the ruling party, but that does not mean the party can actually formulate policies and implement them on behalf of the government.

When a government implements policies, it becomes a non-partisan policy. It means UPND, NDC, MMD and UNIP members can enjoy the benefits of that policy without anyone harassing them. But when the ruling party is in charge of policy implementation, you cannot expect citizens from the other side of the political divide to be involved. This means this night vending market along Lumumba Road in Lusaka will strictly be for Patriotic Front cadres only. Now, how do you govern a country like that?

Surely, if anyone has been looking for evidence of the Patriotic Front leadership spearheading lawlessness, this is it! Here, we have a member of the Patriotic Front Central Committee confidently pronouncing himself on a local government matter, without any regard for the relevant authorities in the line Ministry.

Imagine what the Patriotic Front would do if the UPND decided to also open a night vending market? Will police move in and stop them? Because the UPND also has its strongholds away from Lusaka, they control the councils, bus stations and the markets. What will happen if UPND cadres meet and agree that they will, for example, start vending in the corridors of Livingstone City at night? Will there be order?

This is what happens when the party in power usurps powers of the Executive; they begin to feel they are in charge of a government. This is the problem that comes with giving more powers to a secretary general of the ruling party than a Cabinet Minister. So, who will solve this mess now? Because if the Minister or the City Council moves in to destroy the make-shift trading shelters and sweep the city clean, Davies Mwila will be summoning that minister for acting without consulting his executive.

Anyway, like Saviour Chishimba once said, may God strengthen President Edgar Lungu so that, together with his party, they can teach more painful lessons to this nation of fools!