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Hichilema’s position shift on vending shocks M’membe

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Socialist Party President Fred M’membe is disappointed that President Hakainde Hichilema has changed his position on street vendors.

Dr. M’membe said Hichilema criticized the chasing of vendors from the streets and destruction of their merchandise while in opposition.

He said it is shocking that Hichilema who was clear in available clips is now doing the things he earlier opposed.

“Does he believe in what he says? Should we believe what he says?” he asked.

Dr. M’membe said it is surprising that Hichilema does not take time to explain why his position has changed on anything.

“No one wants to leave his or her home to go into the town centre to be hit by the cold, sun, harassed by the wind and be humiliated by the police. The compounds where they are chasing them to are full of people selling. Wherever you turn to in the compounds, there is someone selling something. They do not choose easily to come to the town centre because it takes a lot of walking. They do not even have transport money for some of those. They walk to the town centre and later walk back home. They leave their families. They go back home with very little money because they cannot afford even a fare on the minibus. You destroy their merchandise and chase them away. It is not easy to earn a living today. Look at the numbers that are on the street trying to sale the same thing such as tomatoes, onions, rape. We have a problem,” he said.

Dr. M’membe said Government must deal with the economy which is pushing the masses into street vending as life has become unbearable in Zambia.

“The problem is not street vending but the economy that is biting resulting in street vending. Let us deal with the problem that is generating street vending. These people on the street would be very happy to do other things that are beneficial because what they are getting from the street is little,” he said.

The Socialist Party President said street vending will continue despite police patrols because there are no alternative livelihoods for Zambians that are struggling to survive.

“If they are given alternative sources of income, they will stop being on the street. But also it is an exercise in futility. No matter how many police officers are deployed in the streets, people will get back to the street because there is nothing out there for them. Again, let them go back to the things they said. Some of the things we are saying today, they said them themselves,” he said.

Dr. M’membe said Zambians that were struggling to afford three meals a day are now struggling to have one meal a day because of the high cost of living.

“We have problems in our homes. People who were struggling to have three meals a few years ago, today they are struggling to have one meal. It is now a big struggle just to have one meal. The stress in the family is huge. If a nation cannot feed itself, if families cannot feed themselves, parents cannot provide food for their children, then you realize that there are serious problems in the family and the Nation in general,” he said.

Dr. M’membe urged Government to ensure affordable food availability as a primary concern before rushing to cleanliness of cities which is secondary.

“Food is the number one priority. The cleanliness of Lusaka and other cities not primary but secondary. The city was not made for anything else but for these same people. Yes, the colonial city was for the colonialists of which out people would be at the peripheral and they only came to the city centre when they were permitted to do so. But today, the city belongs to them. If cities are theirs, priority goes to them,” he said.

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