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STOP SEMANTICS

THE last thing Zambians want as they go about their lives is being treated to semantics by the new dawn government.

There is talk about allowing UPND members to form branches in markets and bus stations in Lusaka minus caderisation.

Just like there is assurances of providing quality education as opposed to free education which was promised to the electorate.

Of late there has been heated debate about the role of political cadres in markets and bus stations.

The furore was sparked by Lusaka Province UPND chairman Obvious Mwaliteta when he stated that he would ensure that the party had branches in all markets and bus stations.

Mr Mwaliteta’s statement was in stark contrast to President Hakainde Hichilema’s promise after he was declared winner of the August 12 elections that there would be no caderism allowed in markets and bus stations.

Mr Hichilema’s promise has been widely welcomed throughout the country especially in urban centres where under the Patriotic Front, the cadres reigned supreme at these public facilities.

They literary replaced councils by introducing a host of levies that bus drivers and traders paid, even though the maintenance was left to the local authorities.

But Mr Mwalitela’s surprise statement was received with shock as it went against the policy directives from the top UPND leadership.

Moreover, removing any presence of political cadres was one of the party’s key promises in the run up to the August 12 general elections.

But now, Mr Mwaliteta claims that he was misunderstood, that what he meant was that UPND branches will be created among marketeers and bus drivers.

Mr Mwaliteta explained that no political cadre would be brought into markets and bus stations to create branches.

Mind boggling indeed.

And to add to the confusion, instead of clearing the air, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Gary Nkombo said Mr. Mwaliteta’s statement was misinterpreted.

Mr Nkombo said the constitution indicated that people had the freedom to associate, liberty of the conscience and the freedom of movement.

The minister said people were free to form church groups, diverse political party groups and any other grouping to exist in facilities such as markets and bus stations.

“However, these associations will not and must not have anything to do with the management of these facilities,” Mr Nkombo said in a statement.

Mr Nkombo should realise that doing so would be the first step to going against the expectations and wishes of the people.

There are still unresolved issues to do with the ejection of PF-aligned drivers at bus stations in Lusaka because the facilities are supposedly under control of the UPND members.

And by allowing their members to form branches at these facilities, what would stop them from influencing decisions that discriminate against their political rivals?

Let these public facilities be places where people could forget about politicking and concentrate on business.

Rather than playing with people’s expectations, the UPND should dismiss any talk of having their political presence felt, that is how chaos begins.

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