Shifting positions on street vending



Davies Mwila, the secretary general of the Patriotic Front, has directed party councillors to revisit the issue of street vendors in Lusaka as it has decampaigned the ruling party.

Mwila called on Lusaka mayor Miles Sampa and Patriotic Front councillors to stop council police from harassing street vendors with immediate effect.

“That issue is decampaigning us. It has decampaigned us. There is street vending everywhere, those of you who have been to South Africa, it is there. Someone selling cooking sticks, can he bring cholera?” asks Mwila.

“In that Cairo Road, you can remove people and in the next road you can remove people but they are some people that…jobs are not enough. While we have a programme to create jobs for our people, but at the moment some of our people have no means [of survival]. Those are the ones who vote for us. There are very few people who eat well who vote for us.”

But local government minister Vincent Mwale has warned the general public against going back to trade on the streets of Lusaka saying the act remains prohibited.

In a tweet, Mwale says if the vendors were allowed back on the streets, the act of defecating in drainages and opaque packs might come back to Lusaka’s Central Business District.

For Mwila what matters most is votes to keep them in power.

Again, a broader reading of history shows that appeasement, no matter how it is labeled, never fulfills the hopes of the appeasers.

If history teaches us anything, it teaches that simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our problems is folly.

Appeasement is a failure of policy.

If it’s to be a political fallout over stopping uncontrolled street vending, let it be now. Appeasement the Mwila way is not the answer.

They may gain temporary appeasement by a policy of concession to uncontrolled street vending, but they do not gain lasting political support that way because soon uncontrolled cholera and other health hazards will set in and take away all that.

Admittedly, there is a risk in any course they follow other than this, but every lesson in history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter Mwila refuses to face in pursuit of remaining in power forever.

There is no security, no safety, in the appeasement of wrongdoing, dangerous practices. Filthy street vending kills.

The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays in doing what needs to be done is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences – there are serious consequences for allowing uncontrolled street vending.

Appeasement from strength is magnanimous and noble and might be the surest and perhaps the only path to peace and stability in our country. But appeasement to simply win elections is dangerous.

When politicians get strong they are often truculent and bullying, but when they are weak they become better-mannered. But this is the reverse of what is healthy and wise.

Cooler heads prevail while things spin completely out of control.

In the heart of appeasement there’s the fear of rejection, of losing elections and in acts of fear there are mirrors of oppression.

Talking about politics of appeasement Winston Churchill said, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

And Criss Jami asked: “What decent philosopher was ever an appeaser? The former is a rare catch among the multitudes of modern opinionists. His role is to be one who loves truth. That is a place where his love for humanity is more powerful than his love for hot air about empowering humanity.”

Over a year ago, the Patriotic Front and its government was uncompromising over street vending. The military was mobilised to forcefully remove all street vendors, including those selling cooking sticks. What has changed?

Patriotic Front political stakes are certainly dwindling. And there’s panic.

Consistency is a key element, without which a leader is incapable of getting respect, success or even developing confidence in others.

Our ability to live in a way that is consistent with our longing is dependent upon what we believe we must do.

Mike Klepper said, “An inconsistent political philosophy is that which feeds our battle yet starves our victory.”

Consistency is the true foundation of trust.

George Orwell wrote in 1984, “The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink.”

Consistency is a key element, without which a leader is incapable of getting respect, success or even developing confidence in others. When people see commitments are met with consistency, they tend to develop trust. Trust is the key to persuasion.

If your desire is pale and flabby, your achievements will also take on that hue and consistency.

For changes to be of any true value, they’ve got to be lasting and consistent.

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