By SIMON MUNTEMBA
IT will be difficult to maintain the 56 workers that are employed at Sunbeam lodge in Masaiti which was burnt down by unidentified people but they will not be fired, lodge owner Sturdy Mwale has said. And the Patriotic Front (PF) has said there was need for the security wings to end the wanton destruction of property, intimidation and harassment of its members.
In an interview, Mr Mwale who is former Ministry of Defence Permanent Secretary confirmed that the lodge was burnt to ashes by unidentified persons.
Mr Mwale said the lodge, which provided employment to 56 locals was torched on the eve of the 2021 Presidential and general election. He said nothing was recovered but property worth K9.2 million was lost. “I can confirm that our lodge was gutted. It was burnt to ashes. This was a day before the general elections.
Everything was burnt, including the store room where we kept some spare fridges, beddings, stoves, etc. Nothing was recovered. We have lost about K9.2 million worth of property,” he said. Mr Mwale said with the burning to ashes of the lodge, management initially wanted to lay off 30 workers out of the 56 because it would be difficult to pay them, but after some considerations the decision was rescinded.
“We will try to keep them in employment since it wasn’t their fault though we will be struggling to pay them. Some of them have been our workers for a very long time and it would have been a harsh decision to lay them off just because the lodge was burnt. We will just take it as a loss to the company,” Mr Mwale said. He however refuted allegations that the lodge was torched by suspected UPND cadres because he had no clue.
“But take it from me, I am not blaming any political party because I don’t have a clue of who burnt our lodge. I don’t want to believe it was UPND as some are alleging because as a party, it has different people some of whom are responsible business individuals,” he said. He added, “I don’t know who burnt it but it must be a stupid person and not an entire organisation.
” Meanwhile, PF chairperson for information and publicity Given Lubinda has said damaging of people’s property would lead to job losses of many Zambians and it must be brought to an end. Mr Lubinda said people who used to work at the PF secretariat have lost their jobs due to vandalism by UPND in the name of celebrating victory. He said the people who were working at the secretariat have stopped coming because the place was vandalised and looted.
“It is our prayer that the wanton destruction of property, the intimidation and harassment of individuals and the disrespect of the human dignity that characterised the August 12 election and still continue even after the declaration of results shall come to an end immediately,” Mr Lubinda said.