Protect us, Chilenje Charcoal traders cry
By Judith Banda and Derrick Sinjela
BORN in 1943, 74-year-old Jackson Sakala has been trading from Chilenje Market since 3rd March 1968, clocking 38 years and 12 days when interviewed.
Initially, Mr. Sakala used to operate within the centre of the market, but now trading outside the refurbished infrastructure, on the Southern side.
Sakala has been married to wife, Justin’s Njovu since 1970, and the couple being blessed with nine children; seven girls and two boys.
A boy Amon, now a bricklayer was born in 1973 though Daniel born in 1975 died early. The third born in 1978, Margaret is married, then, 1980 born Jelita, Elizabeth born 1984, Mary born 1986 and Charity last born in 1988.
The nine children have between them provided Sakala and Ambuya Njovu with 22 grandchildren.
Having initially settled in Chilenje, the Sakala’s left the Kabwata Constituency township for Mtendere, Munali Constituency in 1970.
“We built our own house in 1983, after renting accommodation for more than a decade (over 13 years),” recalls Sakala.
Sakala explained that initially, the market was run by the Chilenje Marketeers Cooperative Society (CMCS) before Lusaka City Council took control. Sakala recollected that a Mr. Asaka Kavumbula Sakala once served as CMCS Chairperson.
“Today’s wealth is one’s ability to eat with children. We are lucky to have children, who contribute toward providing food and other household necessities,” said a tart Sakala.
When quizzed on possibility of being evicted as a charcoal trader and allocated an alternative trading place near the closed Old Chilenje Cemetery, a defiant Sakala retorted: “We were denied an opportunity to occupy stalls on the market perimeter. Secondly, authorities promised to build us shelters as bulk sellers of charcoal but to no avail. Are we moving? Perhaps, you know where, as a whistle blower,” Sakala threw the gauntlet at the authors.
“When you make a promise, to construct a trader’s shelter, one must honour such a pledge. As per council regulations, since we are paying for this trading space, evidenced by Lusaka City Council receipts, we must be allocated this land now earmarked as commercial plots. Secondly, there is need for a meeting, not just being physically relocated. We are people, just like those shortlisted and offered this land,” Sakala advised in response to rumours that the area occupied by charcoal traders is now designated as a commercial plot”.
On his part, 45-year-old Timothy Phiri, a widower with four children, equally called for transparency as charcoal traders are not privy to Elected Executive Mayor Wilson Kalumba’s LCC’s plans.
Mr. Phiri’s wife Marian died 12-years ago, with the couple bearing 13-year-old Peter, a Grade 8 pupil at Arankan Secondary School, 19-year-old Tricia, a tertiary student studying Business Administration in Cape Town, South Africa since February 2016 and 24-year-old Leonard, a Grade 12 school dropout, now studying computer studies in Lusaka.
Mr. Phiri says he had not interest to learn despite having supportive parents; father, late Gilbert Phiri and mother, Mailesi residing at a family farm in Palabana, Chongwe District of Lusaka Province.
“My father used to work for National Provident Fund (NPF) now called National Pensions and Savings Agency (NAPSA) was very supportive till his death at 75 years, two years ago. We were four in our family, Febby and Miriam died early. Precious, a sister is married in Lusaka,” said an appreciative Phiri.
“It is a blue lie that we are going to have shelters built for us. 10 years ago, when served on the Chilenje Market Committee and at Ward level, we were promised shelters and money allocated through the Community Development Fund (CDF). As far as we know, this is now a commercial land where we are standing. The LCC must tell where we are going. Last year, media outlets like Muvi Television came and heard our cries over being pushed near the Old Chilenje Cemeterybut no protection has come our way,” Phiri protested when quizzed as to seeking intervention by Patriotic Front (PF) Kabwata Member of Parliament (MP) Given Lubinda. Phiri is not ready to support the proposed Public Private Partnership (PPP) being suggested as it will make plots expensive.
“How can one demolish a house before allocation of an alternative trading place. It is not good and we risk being ignored as was the case at Kamwala Market. Already the council has increased monthly charges from K45 to K65,” complained Phiri,arguing that their plight is known to Justice Minister Given Lubinda, and two independent candidates in the Thursday 11th August 2016 parliamentary elections; Maiko Zulu and Clement Tembo.
Maggie Zulu served as Chilenje Ward 8 Councillor from 2011 to 2016, while Patrick Mwape of the PF is now at the helm as Ward Chairperson.
17-year-old Aaron Mwape, who dropped out of Muramba Basic School at Grade 8 in Livingstone and 21-year-old Mike Milimo, who dropped out in Grade 9 at RR Basic School want to study Business Management.
On her part, Restaurant worker, 33-year-old Betty Mvula and husband, Jerry Michael have two children, 15-year-old Sunday, a grade 9 pupil and 24-year-old Martha.