Thursday, June 20, 2024

Demolishing Soweto market by Lusaka City Council


Soweto market
Soweto market
By Wesley Ngwenya

The other morning we woke up only to find the famous Soweto market gone. All the market stalls were gone. This was received with utmost disbelief for most of the residents especially the men and women who owned the stalls. Some lost all their property as a result. This means more people out of work, more people without money, more people without food and less children going to school. Hats off to the hardworking Lusaka City Council!

The demolishing took place because the council was building a more modern building to accommodate the traders at Soweto market. It is no doubt that the new and modern facility will be a welcome development to all the traders of Soweto and all the shoppers of Lusaka. But why the haste in destroying millions, if not billions of Kwachas, worth of property? Could the council have handled the matter differently and have been less confrontational? Certainly.

To hear the council spokesperson justify the exercise, stating that the traders have been operating at the market illegally is very illogical. Why did it take the council so long to destroy the stalls if they have been operating illegally? Was there a warning I wonder? The council should have warned the traders in advance and facilitated the transition to their new trading place. If the new modern market is not ready then they could have waited for the market to be ready for a smooth transition. Who burns their home and property before their new home is ready? I guess only our city council is capable of that.

What the council should have done is to create maximum awareness to the traders at Soweto. In fact, they should have had a specific date communicated to all the traders through flyers, megaphones, newspaper, and television adverts as to when they will come with their bulldozers to do what they are good at doing. For some reason our council is good and efficient at tearing things down. They meet deadlines when it comes to this. Tell them to build something and suddenly there are tons of excuses. The council should have put a countdown on national television starting a few days before the demolishing exercise.

Again, like I have stated so many times local government is there to help its citizens. It has a duty to provide basic necessities and create acceptable living conditions for its people. This is also how peace is promoted. When you provide and take care of your people then order will equally follow. However, the actions of the council leaves me wonder whether these people are really concerned with the peace that we all enjoy in this country by demolishing Soweto market.

I am in no way saying that the traders of Soweto should not move to their new trading post. I think they should because after all Soweto was one ugly, full of chaos and smelly place. It was a place I dreaded going. Regardless, the traders at Soweto deserved better especially from the council who levied them always.

I am glad I come from a country such as Zambia whose people are peaceful and hate violence. When I was at Soweto yesterday morning it was very quiet except for the disbelief on the faces. Maybe they saw that coming but didn’t really believe that the council will do it. Maybe right now they are so hurt and wondering what step to take next. Maybe they do not care and will easily just move on and transition to wherever they will be selling their Kapenta this time.

Whatever the above case may be, I can assure you that there will be a hungry family tonight because the father did not bring food, there will be a broken home tonight because the wife cannot take it any more, there will children not going to grade nine despite doing so well because…Well I do not even need to go further with this one. That is what our local government is capable of doing–destroying innocent lives of its own people. I see why they are building on the promise of continuity—to make my life and your life continue to be miserable and promise theirs full of cheers!


  1. There comes a time when things change. It is not easy to take up this challenge. The Soweto Market dilemma only shows that the local government is concerned and wants to see a clean environment. I say Bravo to this move.

    • Come on guys… We all need a good and clean environment in the Zed. But I personally believe that action was cowardice based on the reasoning that the traders were shot in the back, I see no reason why the council had to go in the middle of the night to destroy struggling families’ property dragging them further into poverty. A warning would have been nice followed by what they’ve done. Let’s do things in order and be mindful of our actions and civil liberties

  2. let them just raze every thing and build ultra modern markets. the pipo have suffered enaf, every rain season, that place is an eye sore

  3. These traders were warned of this action. They just ignored the council warnings. What the council has/is trying to do is to pave way for the construction of a road to get to the newly built market. Allocation of stalls has already started and I have seen notices in the media informing those that applied to go to various allocated places to check which space has been fiven to them.

    Ni ntota chabe pa LSK. Survival ninkondo. But I think what the council is trying to do is for the benefit of all Soweto traders and their customers (US). Its about time mwe. That market has been awaited for long.

  4. I think the traders where warned in advance. Secondly the traders where trading illegally.

    Now the families who’s livelihood has been destroyed, it is a pity that they have gone through this but the council has to do its job. Lusaka is growing and we need to move with time. We need modern structures. We cannot have Zambia’s business capital looking like a ghetto.

    Sorry to the traders but good move LCC for modernizing and cleaning up our city.

    • Help me understand “Fee-Market-Capitalist”. How do you reconcile calling these traders illegal traders when Local Government levied them daily at rates corresponding to the size of their stand? Surely, if they were illegal traders than Local Government by benefiting financially from this illegal practise is guilty of conspiring to break the law. Where does the “buck” stop? Who is “man” enough?

    • I think this is not really a problem of Free Market Economics but rather a issue with town planing, employment and educational oportunities, the role and functions of councils and the ability for councils to empliment law, the intersection of law, social practice and economics etc.

    • i like your logic cj,,its a pitty that some folk become very myopic all of a sudden. How can anyone justify such irresponsible actions in this day and age, credit crunch and high joblessness etc,,,,were is the sensitvity,,,,its also about viewing the wider picture, because
      A-why not a smooth transition once the new structure has been built ,in anycase thats why they havent moved because there has been no alternative B- how does the same council justify the daily levies C- lets now waite and see how many of our very industroius people are going to occupy the new block D- It looks like common sense is not all that after all…..i rest my case.

    • Hello cutey street vending is a complicated issue , though Dr chiluba is not my favorite name , I think he understood the complexity nature it but could not explain it well , all he did was create a vendors ` desk at state house with a minister in -charge of it . A some what good attempt .

  5. BRAVO Lusaka city council. Those people are crowding the city there better things to do out in other towns of zambia, infact building another market is a waste of money. How do you have a city with markets everywhere.

  6. Ngwenya, a few months ago you blogged about having lived abroad. Give Lusaka a chance to catch up with the century where food is refridgerated before its sold and frutis are washed. God bless the marketeers but I’m with LCC on this one.

  7. I endorse the council actions.These soweto traders are very unruly and that was the only way.I have been to Soweto, the market is muddy and dirty despite its alleged billions of kwacha in it. We need a face uplift of lusaka and it will come at a cost.

  8. A job well done ,hats off to the Lusaka city council for a job well done in style,The illegal traders were given warning after warning but they chose to hang on so they are only to blame them selves,gone are the days of Chiluba rule where the street vendors were encouraged when they even created a job for a minister at the state house for the vendors.Lusaka needs to look beautiful as any other capital cities of todays modern world.This demolition should send a stiff warning signal tothe vendors in other areas in the capital &around the rest of cities in Zambia .Aconcerned Lusaka resident Mebs

  9. Whatever. …. The fact is that BOTH marketeers and Lusaka City Council were born from the same mother! They are BOTH a problem to the rest of us!!

  10. We need to ask why we have so many traders. Why do we have so many women, children and men engaged in selling in markets? Even though we recognize the importance of the products they sell, and our need for them, I do not know of anyone who grows up wishing to be a trader in a market.

    • We all can not be the same , what we should advocate for are laws that protect the voiceless majority. Think of international hotels and air ports , to maintain sanitation ,they aught to be a sanitary worker ,crudely put a cleaner . Yet very essential worker, so are the marketeers … thinking only

  11. somebody to answer chanda J on #4.1


  12. Is Nqwenya a reporter or an MMD cadre? He sounds very sentimental about the whole matter, and he is a reporter he must realise that sentimentality breeds mediocrity. A reporter must be objective, sincere and impartial. So he has not displayed any of these qualities. Some city councils are trying their best to provide good services and infrastructure except that there is rather too much political interference in Zambia. The same marketeers are used. Come on guys let us work with the councils and not against them!

  13. Well, well ,well it is cry for the beloved country Zambia faced with daunting problems with few people to offer long term and lasting solutions. This is not the first time such a scenario has occurred , come 2011 prior to elections vendors will be back and the council will pay a blind eye.. political drama as usual

  14. At Soweto market, they use formaldehyde to preseve fresh meat which they sell in the open. I think we need strong laws regarding food hygiene.

  15. I sympanthise with all those that have lost mechandise in the process. In Zambia , there is a tendency to politisise issues for wrong reasons. I have personally walked on that space it is not only a healthy hazard but death itself. If we had incidences documented am sure we would be shocked at the number of lives we have lost in that environment.I am only hoping that LCC will quickly begin to relocate these people to the new market. I however want the LCC to begin to address other issues in the city with the same vigour

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