Zambia: Mayors, Get to Work!

NOW that the dust has settled following the Mayoral elections and the subsequent installation that took place yesterday in councils across the country, it is time for the newly installed Mayors, their deputies and the council chairpersons to start executing civic duties in earnest.

We support the call by the Vice-President Guy Scott that the new Lusaka Mayor Mulenga Sata should revive the Millennium Challenge Account project for sanitation which will see the local authority rid the Capital City of the garbage that has made the central business district become an eyesore.

This should go to all councils in the country. Whereas the local authorities have the overall responsibility to clean the cities and municipalities across the country, it is also the civic duty of all members of the public to ensure they do not litter the surrounding.

Mountains of garbage dotted around townships and markets should be dismantled and disposed of. Attempts have already been made by well-meaning citizens to put up garbage bins in selected parts of most towns but sadly such a noble gesture has only been rewarded by either people stealing the bins or throwing litter around them.

There is also the thorny issue of street vendors who have taken over a lane of the Cairo Road and Freedom Way in Lusaka.

The argument has been that the council has not found an alternative market for those who sell their merchandise on the streets. What is sad is that despite huge amounts of money that have been spent on building modern markets, most marketeers are skeptical to occupy them partly because they are far away from where the potential buyers are and secondly because they do not want to pay market levies.

It is encouraging, however, that some marketeers have started trickling into some of the new markets like reports suggesting that Nakadoli Market in Kitwe, which was feared to be a 'white elephant', has now recorded pockets of marketeers trading from there.

The new civic leaders will have their work cut out in curbing the illegal allocation of land that has dogged most councils countrywide.

It will also be upon the councils to revive income generation ventures like door-to-door garbage collection that private companies and individuals are making a fortune out of.

This can make councils self-sustaining more so that they now have heavy responsibilities including that of paying electricity bills after ZESCO announced that every street light would have its own pre-paid metre.

We hope firefighting which is another critical role of the local authorities will also be given priority if the councils are to smoothen their relationship with members of the public who have resorted to stoning firefighters for arriving late each time there is a fire.

It is our prayer that the newly-installed Lordships will help restore the confidence that their predecessors were beginning to build among the citizens in service delivery. No organisation wants to go by a tainted reputation like the Kasama Municipal Council whose operations Northern Province Minister Freedom Sikazwe described as moribund.

We also commend Labour and Social Security Minister Fackson Shamenda for his call in Ndola that councillors in all councils countrywide should work above partisan lines.

Without doubt, transparent and better-managed councils are some of the ways the local authorities will attract investors as Sports Minister Chishimba Kambwili observed during the coronation in Mufulira.

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