By FELIX MALUNGA –
GOVERNMENT stands to lose more than K1.3 million from some Copperbelt marketeers who accessed the Presidential Empowerment Initiative fund and are now refusing to repay the loans.
Of the total figure, Ndola marketeers are owing K800,000 with Chisokone traders in Kitwe yet to pay K533,000 while K30,000 is stuck in Luanshya.
Some marketers are even turning violent against officials from the initiative whenever they pursue the traders to remind them of their obligations to repay what they owed.
A Ndola-based official was chased by the marketeers and warned that she risked being beaten if she ever showed up asking for the money.
“You see these people are supposed to repay the K2,000 in installments for 30 days without incurring interest. We’ve been lenient with these people and we go to them in a respectable manner,” an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
She said the initiative started facing problems with the recovery process in February in Kitwe before the trend spread to Ndola and Luanshya.
Judging by the unruly behavior of the marketeers, the official concluded that the traders could be influenced by opposition political party cadres.
Presidential Empowerment Initiative chief executive officer, Joseph Chilinda regretted the turn of events, saying such conduct would deprive other traders with the much-needed capital to better their livelihoods.
He said it was regrettable that people think the money being given out by the initiative was free because “you can’t eat the seeds which are supposed to be grown every season.”
Mr Chilinda said the empowerment programme had no political boundaries but all eligible citizens especially vulnerable traders in dire need for capital injection.
“Most of the people we are targeting are financially excluded and can’t participate in the financial sector. These people are not viable for any financial institution to work with because of the structure of the financial industry in Zambia,” he said in an interview in Ndola.
He appealed to all well-meaning Zambians to support the initiative and ensure the integrity of the revolving fund was sustained by paying back.
Mr Chilinda said the sense of responsibility in the beneficiaries needed to be inculcated.
The initiative chief executive said there had never been such kind of empowerment to the informal sector since Zambia’s independence in 1964 until President Lungu introduced it last year.
He also sensitised the marketeers to be on the look out for conmen masquerading as officers or agents of the initiative who were charging money as inducement to access loans.
Mr Chilinda said such characters needed to be reported to the police because the officers from the initiative do not ask for money upfront.
He cited an example of Petauke in Eastern Province where marketeers were swindled of the money by some crooks posing as representatives of the initiative.
However, the Petauke culprits were brought to book and prosecuted.
Re-opened community police post cheers Kafue residents
By CHIPEMA SAKAIMBO –
THE community in Kafue’s Shikoswe Township has expressed happiness with Government’s decision to re-open the police post which was recently gutted after a riot.
The residents said the re-opening of the police post would help reduce crime activities in the area which was on an increase due to the lack of police presence.
Agnes Muyombe a resident, said it was pleasing to see that the police post has been re-opened because residents were forced to walk long distances to report any crime activities and it was taking long for police to act due to the long distance.
Ms Muyombe said the nearest police post was in Kafue Estates but was miles away and thieves were taking advantage of the situation to attack and rob innocent people especially in the night knowing they would not be caught.
Another resident, Luyando Mpanisi of Shikoswe Township, advised all residents of Kafue to ensure that they did not cause any damage to the police post as it guaranteed protection to everyone in the area.
“I am calling upon the people of Kafue to protect this police post, the presence of a police post in the area means the area is now secured.” he said.
Shikoswe Police Post was in 2013 looted and burnt down by angry residents when rumour went round that a worker at the police post participated in the beating of a suspect who later died whilst in police custody.
Northmead traders blame LCC over blocked drainage
By JAJAH COULIBALY –
TRADERS at Northmead market have accused Lusaka City Council (LCC) of ignoring their complaints over the blocked drainage at their trading area.
The traders said they had tried to unblock the drainages voluntarily but their work could not yield any positive results.
They said business especially of food had become tough because of the water and bad stench that comes from the drainages.
They have since appealed to LCC to immediately move in and unblock the drainages which were inconveniencing them as they were emitting a bad stench.
LCC public relations manager , Mulunda Habeenzu expressed ignorance over the matter but promised that the engineering team would be on site to check the blockage.
Mr Habeenzu suspected the blockage could have been caused as a result of the same traders throwing trash that was meant for the bins into the drainages.
“The blockage cannot happen on it’s own, it is as a result of the same traders throwing rubbish there instead of using the bin,” he said.
He said the blocked drainages were the repercussions of not wanting to subscribe to the waste management team and asked where they deposited their waste.
“If a disease breaks out in that area, it won’t be us, but will affect the same traders. Ask them where they throw their waste, those are the repercussions of not subscribing to waste management bins,” he said.
Mr Habeenzu advised members of the public with such complaints to always visit the council and resolve the matter amicably
‘Sensitise us on referendum’
By CHIPEMA SAKAIMBO –
KAFUE residents have bemoaned the lack of sensitisation programmes on the referendum in the area.
They said there was need for the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to involve more stakeholders to help sensitise people on what was contained in the referendum.
Most of the residents talked to disclosed that they had heard about the referendum but no one had gone there to educate them and explain in detail about what was contained in the referendum and help them make informed decisions.
Felistus Mbeza, a trader at Zambia Compound Market, said she did not understand what the referendum was all about, and as such, there was no way she would agree or disagree to it.
Mwembeshi residents cry for police post
By JAJAH COULIBALY –
RESIDENTS of Mwembeshi Township have pleaded with relevant authorities to immediately come on board and help to complete the renovation of Mwembeshi Police post since works have stalled.
A check by Sunday Times found the Police post abandoned, a situation which has increased crime in the area, months after it was razed down due to reports of ritual killings.
Some youths talked to in the area said they have learnt a lesson and claimed they would never burn the Police post once renovated because thieves were now terrorising them.
Police deputy spokesperson Rae Hamoonga said in an interview that the community would have to renovate the Police post themselves for damaging it.
He said the Police post was handed over to the Zambia Police by the community and it was nonsensical for the residents to burn down their own asset.
“This should serve as a lesson to those who ignore our warnings of keeping community or public assets well,” he said.
He said the community should intensify their sourcing of funds and come up with enough money to carter for the whole project.
Mr Hamoonga further urged those with any other complaints regarding the Police post to visit the Zambia Police in order to address the challenge.