UNITED Party for National Development (UPND) Lusaka Central Aspiring Member of Parliament Mulambo Haimbe says his task once elected law-maker in 579 days time will be to lobby Central Government through the Ministry of Local Government and Housing for descent permanent trading alternatives for vendors in the Constituency.
In an interview in Lusaka, Mr Haimbe emphasized the need for a lasting solution to street vending in the Central District Business (CBD) and surrounding places as more time and resources continue to be lost through a confrontational relationship between vendors and the Lusaka City Council (LCC).
The late Michael Chilufya Sata encouraged street vending in his short reign as Zambia’s fifth (5th) Republican President from 2011 till his demise on Tuesday 28th October 2014.
According to the late Zambian leader and founder of the Patriotic Front (PF) “his” street vendors were viewed as an integral part in the formation of PF and its subsequent victory in 2011.
This regard for the informal group of traders was evident when the late Sata reprimanded then Minister of Local Government and Housing Minister Nkandu Luo when she threatened to evict street vendors from the CBD.
In his second term in office (2016 to date), President Edgar Chagwa Lungu ordered street vendors to vacate the streets through the evocation of the Local Government Act after Zambia was hit by a Cholera outbreak, ostensibly used to forcibly remove persons trading from the streets.
President Lungu unleashed military and police personnel to clean the streets of Lusaka and the remaining six ((6) constituencies namely; Chawama, Kabwata, Kanyama, Mandevu, Munali and Mutendere.
Though vendors in the alluded communities were uncompromisingly dealt with, some ‘sacred cow vendors’ with connections to ‘corridors of powers’ were spared.
For instance, those trading in makeshift steel structures opposite COMESA Secretariat near the Zesco Kafue Road Substation were left Scott free.
Perhaps fearing an electoral defeat, as 2011 electoral mandate which promised more jobs, more money in citizens pockets and lower taxes remain elusively unfulfilled, the PF this year conveniently reserved two roads; Lumumba road and Simon Mwewa lane as ‘allowable’ street vending areas at specific times.
Though street vendors have only been allowed to carryout their business from 16 hours till 20:00 hours at a K5 fee slapped on them, the move has raised security concerns especially
among female traders.
But speaking in an interview in Lusaka, Mr. Haimbe said street vending exists because trading places are not equitably and sufficiently provided.
He said his first intervention when elected Member of Parliament will be to ensure that trading places and spaces are adequately distributed without political bias.
He said the UPND and party president Hakainde Hichilema’s vision is to offer viable alternative market places to vendors and putting in place measures meant to ensure that trading activities are conducted in designated and decent areas that are lucrative for the vendors.
According to the legal counsel with 18 years experience, some people are allowed to trade on the streets, whereas others are confined to designated trading places which are less lucrative on account of residents opting to conveniently purchase merchandise from vendors.
“As long as there is no orderliness when giving out trading places and lack of sanitary facilities, problems will continue to exist…and everyone will agree, with me including our brothers and sisters, who trade on the streets that it is not an ideal consideration to conduct business without access to public conveniences (toilets). This lack of decency compromises the health status of vendors and the general public,” lamented a determined Mr. Haimbe.
With 19 months and eight days before elections are conducted by Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) Chairperson Justice Essau Chulu and Director of Elections Patrick Nshindano, Mr. Haimbe said the issue of street vending does not need an emotive approach.
“The issue of street vending is thorny and one that needs to be carefully approached. When we talk of street vending, we are talking about protecting livelihoods as an essential part of our community in Lusaka and Zambia as a whole. It is certainly not a situation which one cannot say, ‘we have an overnight solution’ but it is one that needs all stakeholders to be involved,” Mr. Haimbe advised.
As at Sunday 10th July 2021, 752 days had remained, which is now 174 days ago and as at today Sunday 22nd December 2019, the remaining time is calculated at 578 days.
In terms of weeks, it is 82 weeks, four days; 19 months eight days or exactly one (1) year, Seven (7) months and eight (8) days in which the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has to conduct elections on Thursday 12th August 2021.