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RIGHT MESSAGE

BUS stations and markets must never be allowed to be run by political parties such that those perceived to belong to a rival political grouping are barred from conducting any business there.

This is what Zambians want and said so through the August 12 general elections won by the United Party for National Development (UPND) which campaigned against cadrerism at these public facilities.

Yesterday’s ruling by the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court, though a temporary measure should send a clear signal that such thuggery behaviour must not be allowed and must stop.

The court has restrained some bus drivers at Kulima Tower Bus Station in Lusaka from chasing their colleagues from operating in the station. That is the right message.

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The court granted an interim injunction order restraining four minibus drivers from restricting four others they accused of belonging to a known political from carrying out any activities at Kulima Tower Bus Station.

In an order for interim injunction, Lusaka Magistrate Alice Walusiku also restrained the defendants from harassing, threatening, and interfering with the plaintiffs’ quiet enjoyment of peace pending hearing of the main matter in full.

This is in a case four minibus drivers Felix Mumba, Ernest Chansa, David Sikapizya, and Charles Mbulo had sued fellow drivers Nicholas Banda, Charles Musonda, Friday Kafwimbi, and Steven Mwale for stopping them from entering and operating their buses at Kulima Tower Bus Station.

The plaintiffs wanted the court to allow them have access to the station again after they were blocked and restricted from entering the premises by the defendants. They also wanted damages for inconvenience and psychological trauma caused by the defendants’ actions.

The injunction granted to the aggrieved drivers is, if anything, a damning indictment against the UPND leadership that citizens have to go through the court process to claim what rightfully belongs to them.

We say so because the UPND has gone on record to state that political cadres will not be in charge of bus stations and markets after its August 12 general elections victory.  It said it had a zero-tolerance on cadrerism.

For soon after the results were confirmed, UPND cadres took it upon themselves to take over the markets and bus stations.  In the process, those who were associated with the losing Patriotic Front were evicted from the bus stations.

Yet, their actions on the ground were in sharp contrast with the statements from their national leaders, including President Hakainde Hichilema that these were public facilities that must be open to any Zambian oblivious of their political affiliation.

The UPND top leadership while preaching reconciliation and co-existence was divorced from what was happening on the ground, and yesterday’s court ruling says it all.

To ensure that sanity returns at Kulima Tower Bus Station, we call on the Zambia Police to  move in swiftly so that political cadres in whatever disguise to not show up.

Yes, the PF allowed its cadres to call the shots at these facilities which the UPND protested against.

It is important therefore that there must be a new beginning in which only the local authorities will be in full control, not only collecting levies but ensuring that every registered operator has unhindered access to the facilities.

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