By NATION REPORTER
CADRES in Kulima Tower Bus Station and COMESA Market have ignored Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Gary Nkombo’s warning against taking the role of the local authorities in public places in the name of being political party supporters.
The suspected UPND cadres have allegedly continued harassing and extorting money from the traders, failure to which they threaten to close down their shops.
Barely 48 hours after Mr Nkombo warned them, one of the victims, Ms Delphine Mweembe said the harassment had continued and that her shop was temporarily locked up by the cadres.
Ms Mweembe said the agitated cadres were still prowling in the station and threatening shop owners who did not pay them with eviction.
“A lot of other shop owners were actually ordered to close and not open again. But the traders are scared to come out in the open for fear of victimisation because no matter how much we complain, nothing happens. In fact, even cadres themselves are arrogantly saying nothing can be done to them because they are in power,” she said.
Yesterday, she said, others paid amounts of K500 to the same cadres and were given a Lusaka City Council receipt. So it seems the cadres are working with the council.
Ms Mweembe wondered whether Government had allowed cadres to work with the local authorities in collecting money from them.
“We wonder if the government authorised the ranks of cadres like the chairmen and their subordinates to collect money on behalf of the council, if so, what is the duty of the council? Our humble appeal also is that let the red office be painted in council colours which is neutral because it is confusing to see all the transactions to do with revenue collection done in the UPND office. That office gives us nightmares,” Ms Mweembe said.
Another trader from COMESA market who sought anonymity said they were being forced to pay illegal fees.
“I think the warning by the minister was just for public consumption. Even he himself, knows that cadres are still present and in charge of markets. We are still paying to them illegal fees. Here you cannot dare the chairman ninshi bakutamfya (daring the UPND chairman here would lead to instant eviction from the market),” he said.