Editor's Comment

Make cleaning a habit

FILE: ZAMBIA Army personnel cleaning up a section of the Lusaka central business district. PICTURE: CHANDA MWENYA

MEMORIES of the cholera epidemic which ravaged the country from late last year to early this year are still alive in most citizens’ minds.Apart from claiming lives of scores of people, the cholera epidemic also disrupted socio-economic activities.
It took a multi-sectoral approach, with the defence and security services taking a leading role, to clean up the country.
It was not the first time cholera had ravaged the country.
Cholera has become a part of Zambia and as soon as the rainy season approaches, citizens begin to think about this water-borne disease.
It became imperative for the country to learn from the perennial outbreaks of this disease which speaks volumes about the levels of filth in the country.
Yet, there has been political will to tidy up the country, starting with the inaugural launch of the ‘Make Zambia Clean and Healthy’ by President Mwanawasa in 2006.
The campaign was relaunched by the Patriotic Front administration in October 2015 with Government designating the first Saturday of every month as the official ‘Keep Zambia Clean and Healthy’ campaign day.
It is clear that the ‘Keep Zambia Clean and Healthy campaign for a Smart Zambia’ was not a complete success as few citizens seem to have been left behind. Some that had moved with the ‘Keep Clean’ tide seem to have backslidden. They have gone back to their bad habits of ignoring the need to be clean.
Thankfully, this time around Government is evidently not losing grip of the progress made so far, hence setting aside the last Saturday of every month for cleaning of premises and surroundings.
This stems from Government partnering with well-meaning citizens in sanitising the country. President Edgar Lungu relaunched the ‘Make Zambia Clean, Green and Healthy’ campaign last month with a call to all citizens to embrace the initiative.
The relaunch of the campaign is aimed at making cities, towns, villages, and public institutions clean to improve the health standards of every citizen.
Today, being the last day of the month, gives the citizens the opportunity to begin implementing the ‘Make Zambia clean, green and health campaign’ by participating in clean-up exercises at respective locations.
President Lungu will today walk the talk by being with the people of Munali in Lusaka to clean the constituency.
This is a cardinal show of leadership. The President is leading from the front and we expect a massive turn-up by citizens, not only in Munali, but in all other parts of the country – urban and rural.
Zambia’s sanity was undone by citizens being carefree, dumping litter indiscriminately and expecting Boma (Government) to constantly do the cleaning up for them.
The litter has made Zambia not only dirty but unhealthy as well. Litter has done a lot of harm to our environment, hence the prevalence of air and water-borne diseases.
This has contributed to the country’s health system being overwhelmed by diseases which can be avoided by maintaining cleanliness. The national health budget is huge but could be considerably reduced by adhering to the simple but effective principle of keeping clean.
Local authorities should also live up to the challenge of ensuring that they provide adequate litter bins and regularly empty these at designated rubbish pits.
There are times when citizens who are keen to keep their surroundings clean get frustrated by the councils failing to collect and discard the rubbish. Rubbish heaps are accumulating again at various points of cities and towns.
Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, is often touted as Africa’s cleanest city. Kigali has achieved that accolade because on the last Saturday of every month, people across the country commit time to projects aimed at improving the country’s public spaces, in a mandatory practice called Umuganda – loosely translated as “coming together to achieve a common purpose”.
Zambia, too, can do it.
Let us not politicise this day because it is for the good of all.

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