Lusaka Town Clerk ‘defies’ Local Government Minister, Permanent Secretary

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The Lusaka City Council led by Town Clerk Alex Mwansa has defied a directive from the Minister of Local Government Vincent Mwale to enforce the laws that prohibit commercial activities in road reserves.

And the Lusaka Town Clerk has also “sat” on a directive by Ministry of Local Government Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga demolish the makeshift stores built on road reserves and other public installations around Kanele Mall and Comesa Market.

Meanwhile, the criminal gang responsible for the construction of the illegal structures around Comesa Market has continued to threaten and verbally abuse senior LCC officials who have attempted to enforce the law, while bragging that the Chief Executive of the Lusaka City Council and some officials at the PF secretariat are on its payroll.

In a memo (pictured) dated November 13, 2018 and addressed to all provincial permanent secretaries; town clerks and council secretaries; city, municipal and town councils, Minister of Local Government Vincent Mwale expressed concern that individuals or companies had been authorised to extend their plot boundaries into the road reserves.

Mwale said reserves are meant for the laying of municipal services such as water, drainage, electricity, optic fibre and other services.

“In order to safeguard the road reserves in line with prescribed standards in cities and towns , you are directed as follows:

  1. No commercial activities, whether temporary or semi-permanent should be allowed in road reserves.
    These activities should not be permitted within the perimeters of the plots fronting the road reserves.
  2. No application for stand/ farm/lot extension in road reserves should be entertained.

“All addresses should abide by these directives,” said the Minister in a memo that was copied to the Commissioner of Lands and the Surveyor General.

However, six months down the line, Lusaka Town Clerk Alex Mwansa is still dragging his feet with no reasonable explanation coming from his office as to why the Council has failed to implement the Minister’s directive.

As if that is not enough, Mwansa has also seemingly defied the directive by the Local Government Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga issued via a letter dated February 19, 2019 to demolish, by February 24, all the illegal structures around Comesa that are not only making accessibility to the area difficult but are also posing a public health risk due to inadequate sanitation facilities in the area.

Meanwhile, the criminal gang perpetrating lawlessness at Lusaka’s Comesa Market have threatened senior Lusaka City Council officials after they were served with an “intention to demolish” letter on Wednesday last week.

An impeccable source at Civic Center has told this writer that the deputy head of the LCC police, a Mr Nguni, was last week subjected to threats and verbal abuse by Comesa gang leader Farouk Mwale.

“This serves to remind you that Lusaka City Council on the 16th of November, 2018 issued an enforcement notice to you for constructing structures believed to be trading shelters in the frontage of Stand No. 37405. Lusaka City Council, through the office of the Acting Director City Planning, directed you to demolish said structures and restore the land to its original state. You have however not complied with the notice served to you,” reads the letter dated April 3, and signed by LCC Acting Director of City Planning, Muchimba Muvombo.

“Be advised that Lusaka City Council will move in and demolish the said structures without any further notice and also commence legal proceedings against you to recover the cost of demolition of illegal structures from yourself.”

However, upon receipt of the letter, Farouk Mwale, the Ugandan national and leader of the gang that is responsible for the illegal activities at Comesa Market, reportedly flew into a rage and phoned the deputy head of LCC police to threaten and verbally abuse him.

Mwale, who used the phone numbers 0976449700 and 0966452687, allegedly bragged that top LCC officials including Town Clerk Alex Mwansa are “in his pocket” and that “they had eaten enough from him.”

The deputy head of LCC police has, according to the source, reported Mwale’s threats to police although no action has been taken as at press time.

Meanwhile, traders in the area have told this writer in separate interviews that they were ready to comply with the local authority’s directive and leave the area but Farouk Mwale stopped them from doing so, assuring them that they are well protected as the Lusaka Town Clerk and the PF secretariat “have been well taken care of”.

The traders further told this writer that Mwale proceeded to collect all the copies of the letter given to them and destroyed them in their presence as if to demonstrate how powerful he is.

Illegal structures on a road reserve

This writer has stated in previous articles that grand corruption, ineptitude and political interference are behind the Council’s failure to enforce it’s own laws and Farouk Mwale’s behavior proves that.

The Urban and Regional Planning Act No. 3 of 2015 in section 71 clearly states that:
A person commits an offence if that person:
a) without lawful authority, uses or occupies any piece or parcel of land or building in an area to which this act applies,
b) Erects any building or structure in any area to which this Act applies without the prior approval of the planning authority within whose jurisdiction the land is situated.

A person convicted of an offence under this Act is liable to a fine not exceeding two hundred thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or both.

Why then is Farouk Mwale being allowed to violate this particular piece of legislation with impunity? It’s not only city planning laws that are being broken here, what Mwale and his cohorts are doing amounts to extortion and obtaining money by false pretenses and whoever is backing him should Know that he or she is an accessory to these crimes.

A comprehensive intelligence report dated February 15, 2019, on the security concerns by ZESCO and other private property owners around Comesa area recommended the demolition of all the illegal structures especially those on road reserves.

Apart from the intelligence report, LCC was directed to demolish the illegal structures by the Ministry of local government on February 24, 2019 but due to the selfishness and lack of professional integrity of a few individuals, this problem has persisted.

While Lusaka Mayor Miles Sampa is talking about cutting down on biscuits and samoosas to save a K20,000 to pay the long-suffering LCC workers their salaries, Farouk Mwale and his gang are reaping hundreds of thousands of kwacha from their criminal enterprise at Comesa. How fair is it that Council workers should go months without pay when unscrupulous individuals are living lavish lifestyles making money from land that is not theirs?

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31