The New Heritage Party has called on President Hakainde Hichilema to gather together an indaba of different expertise to debate and propose a solution that will permanently address the issue of street vending.
The New Heritage Party Vice President Samuel Kasankha stated that since President Hichilema has taken this initiative to ask for consultation, he should therefore take time and use every workable means that will hopefully be permanent and satisfactory to all concerned parties.
“As New Heritage Party, we urge that not only should we heed the President’s call for consultation but that the type of consultation must be all inclusive and exhaustive. Let us not be in a hurry to find a solution to this problem because firstly it’s not a situation unique to Zambia, but also, as already observed, we’ve lived for a while with it. Solutions will not come easy and in abundance but must be searched for carefully,” he said
Mr Kasankha said that their Party sympathise with the President’s stance because there are indeed certain factors to street vending that must be considered before they throw vendors out, adding that firstly, they do not believe that Mr Nkombo’s effort at forcibly eliminating the vendors is sustainable, as this is a route that has been tested before and has resulted in failure, and for as long as the police (and sometimes even military personnel) remained on the streets on guard, the vendors stayed off, and as soon as they demobilised, the vendors slowly trickled back and ultimately filled the streets again! So, commanding the vendors out by ultimatum or physical force will only agitate angry anti government reactions at a time when anti government sentiment is arguably already very high.
“The reasons why our populations are trooping into the streets to trade there have everything to do with the current economic doldrums the majority are going through, most have no alternative means to earning a living so we sympathise with the President’s stance because unless we give our people alternatives, they will starve and fail to take care of their families. Street vending is an almost sole alternative means of livelihood for many, so we must seriously consider how to help them before we can chase them,” he said
He disclosed that given an opportunity, Mr Nkombo would by last Monday 16th January, 2023 have eliminated street vendors from the streets of Lusaka, and since he has not stated what he would have done if they had ignored his ultimatum, let’s assume that as usual, he would have fallen on the force of law enforcement agents from the Zambia Police Service and the Lusaka City Council.
“We sympathise with both Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Gary Nkombo’s and President Hakainde Hichilema’s different positions on the issue of street vending,” he said
“We sympathise with his desire to eliminate street vendors, and we believe Mr Nkombo has the support of many other Zambians on that one,” he added
Mr Kasankha cited that there are several critical considerations, some among which are as follows: 1. They lead to the accumulation of filth in the central business area of our capital city, 2. There are inadequate sanitation facilities for the crowds that mass in town daily such that many use unconventional means to answer the call of nature resulting in serious health threats including possible outbreaks of diseases like cholera, which has happened in the past, 3. The overcrowding in the streets limits space for mobility both in the shop corridors and in some lanes of roads like Lumumba and Freedom Way, making it hard to manoeuvre whether by car or on foot, and finally, 4. The overcrowding also creates an opportunity for thieves, pickpockets and other deviants to easily perform their unlawful acts against unsuspecting passersby. It therefore abets crime.
Mr Kasankha mentioned that there are other offshoots of street vending which readily come to mind but for now, the above provide sufficient reasons to support the permanent elimination of street vending especially when and where it is proven that alternative trading spaces like markets have been provided but people have opted to trade on the streets.
“To this extent, therefore, we agree with Mr Nkombo that these people must be moved,” Mr Kasankha stated