I’M in charge of Southern Province, Edify Hamukale has told his critics.
Last week, Hamukale closed a Pep Stores outlet in Choma for not stopping vendors trading in front of the shop.
He has since directed all street vendors to vacate the central business district in Choma ahead of the South Expo slated for September.
PF central committee member Kebby Mbewe on Wednesday criticised Hamukale for chasing the vendors. He further accused the minister of working to destroy the PF, adding that Hamukale was not PF but a hired gun.
“This is the time we want to see leaders that stand for the people. This is not the time when someone must incite citizens to rise against President [Edgar] Lungu or the PF because this is a natural calamity not brought by PF,” said Mbewe. “We will not allow Edify Hamukale to take Southern Province in his pocket by denting the image of the PF party and President Edgar Lungu in his quest to protect his job at the expense of the impoverished vendors he is mistreating by chasing them around in the streets of Choma as if they are not his brothers and sisters.”
But Hamukale said he would not rescind his decision of championing the Keep Choma Clean Campaign as demanded by those “barking 200 kilometres away” from his office.
Hamukale said those aggrieved should engage him and not through the media.
“I’m in charge of Southern Province and I make decisions. I run Southern Province the way we perceive it, the correct way guided by government policy and our decisions as a team as provincial administration,” Hamukale said. “So when those complaining question my action on the vendors, they are questioning the decision by the President. I will not rescind my decision on vending unless the President himself one day tells me that, ‘Minister, now vendors can come back to the streets.’ The Keep Zambia Clean Campaign was started by late president [Levy] Mwanawasa and we resurrected it as Southern Province being the pioneer province. We are the first ones before anyone did it, the President did it, and he replicated it to the rest of the country. And we are happy that now our town is clean, so I will not be shaken by anybody’s statement because this is what the President stands for and I will make sure that his policies are implemented. I have to be much involved if the council has gone docile on this matter. In the local government Act, I’m the overseer of all councils. Mayors report to me, MPs report to me, so I’m the boss of the province.”
He said if anything he was sending the Zambia Police to clean up all the streets within a week.
“Yes I will. I carry no trait of compromise on that matter and I have no co-manager of Southern Province. I’m in charge,” Hamukale said. “I make decisions and move guided by government policy as well as team work as provincial administration. So those who are aggrieved should come over and tell us that ‘Minister our interest is to make our streets dirty, please bring back garbage, bring back cholera.’ Then I will listen to them if they want cholera back, they want streets dirty. And when they go to Dubai and any other developed countries they proudly admire those countries’ cleanliness but here they don’t want to be agents of change in terms of cleanliness.”
He urged his critics not to politic about issues that affect the livelihood of millions in the country.
Hamukale said the Keep Zambia Clean Campaign had made huge savings in chorela control and other water-borne diseases.
“Surely is it not something to be proud of than running around fighting chorela? Let me put it this way – and you can make it a headline if you like: I want the toilets in Southern Province to be so clean to an extent that you can go in the toilet and eat pizza,” he said. “You go in the toilet and eat pizza, chew bubble gum. So bad smell will no longer be an indication of the direction of where the toilet is. So we want our toilets to be as clean as our sitting rooms and our bedrooms, that’s why some houses are self-contained because at household level we are able to keep our toilets and surroundings clean to an extent that the toilet can be two metres away from the bedroom. So really let’s be patriotic. We are not going to politicise this and I carry no trace of compromise.”
Hamukale said he listens to all stakeholders.
“That’s perfectly in order, I listen to marketeers, I listen to chiefs, political parties and other stakeholders but they are not the government of Southern Province. Let’s see a bigger picture of a clean Zambia that we can be proud of,” said Hamukale.
“I’m receiving a lot of people I don’t know how many countries will have their citizens here to attend the Expo and then they want visitors to see dirt as the first thing, flying papers and flies, that’s not the Zambia I want to see. We are not going to be driven by petty interests which are not even supported by the law. I’m not going to bend, I’m not going to be shaken by that. So if anyone is aggrieved, let them walk over and come to me and if they have the courage to speak for the people – he or she thinks they are speaking for the people and not for his or her ego – walk into Dr Hamukale’s office. It’s open for every citizen as long as you are in Southern Province. But if you specialise in being a coward and barking from 200 kilometres away from my office then you are fighting a losing battle.”
Hamukale said he was a listening minister but not to those who go public before engaging him.
“Decisions that I make are very legal, very much backed by the law, very much supported by ordinary citizens. We had won this street vending war, why are we bringing it back? I would rather money supposed to be used to fight chorela is used to buy desks, support youths to bring some progress related expenditure. For me any town clerk, council secretary who tries to dodge this issue will be fired, simple,” said Hamukale. “They think that they can challenge the minister who controls the army, air force and police in the province…because I control those here. I command those on behalf of the President, so really it’s not good to tempt each other like that when you know what is clearly good is a clean society in the central business district, homes, churches, and clean culture handed to the children. My job is to coordinate government business in the province and not to be regulated by any other stakeholder. That one they are scratching my stubborn nerve which I had deliberately allowed to cool down and I think people think this is weakness when I’m being insulted and not reacting. No, I’m not a coward, sir. I only have respect for people and allow them to bark because they specialise in being cowards. They can go and bark 200 kilometres away and avoid their own brother whom they go to the same church with and then they call that Christianity! That’s really hypocrisy.”