Columnists

Public service critical to making Zambia clean, healthy

BENEDICT Tembo.

Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO
LAST Sunday, President Edgar Lungu re-launched the ‘Make Zambia Clean, Green and Healthy’ campaign.The launch, coming against the backdrop of probably the worst cholera epidemic that Zambia has ever encountered, is another litmus test for turning around the country from a garbage heap into garden nation.
Late President Levy Mwanawasa was the first head of State to launch the ‘Make Zambia Clean and Healthy’ campaign on June 22, 2007 with a view to making homes, communities, villages, towns, and cities clean.
Dr Mwanawasa had noted with concern that for some years, communities, towns, and cities had not been as clean as they were supposed to be and this was caused by inadequate clean and safe water supply and sanitation services, inappropriate personal and food hygiene practices, along with low knowledge levels by many citizens concerning basic health and hygiene matters.
In re-launching the ‘Keep Zambia Clean and Healthy’ campaign for a smart Zambia 10 years later, then Minister of Local Government and Housing John Phiri urged all citizens to set aside the first Saturday of every month for cleaning of premises and surroundings.
Eleven years later, President Lungu has re-launched the campaign, this time with an expanded scope that includes greening.
The re-launch is a demonstration of Government’s desire to have a sparkling clean Zambia devoid of diseases such as cholera.
For the campaign to succeed there is need for mindset change as the starting point.
This mind change should start with pupils, students, and youths to grow it.
For the mindset to change there is need for sustained sensitisation because this is the most important part. Thereafter local authorities should designate disposal sites.
Joseph Chimpampwe, a banker, feels that for the ambitious campaign to succeed, the country’s leadership at all levels should take a lead, like President Paul Kagame does in Rwanda, and possibly dedicate a Saturday every month to countrywide environmental cleaning.
Mr Chimpampwe, who is also an entrepreneurship and business coach, says the country’s leadership should maintain the hype created during the cholera period and institutionalise the campaign in schools, companies, churches and at events such as weddings.
“Where possible, we should implement punitive measures such as name and shame,” he said.
Mr Chimpampwe has called for the adequate funding of the campaign and holding relevant people accountable for outcomes.
Patson Moono, a Monze resident, says the previous “Make Zambia clean and healthy” campaigns had little or no impact at all because the pronouncements were not followed by action from both Government and stakeholders.
Mr Moono says what can make this campaign successful is enactment of by-laws for enforcement, full involvement of Government and all stakeholders, who include every citizen, and there must be consistency, availability of bins and toilet facilities, stiffness of punishments to offenders and stopping street vendors from selling on the streets.
It is clear that unless Government, through public service workers, begins to walk the talk, the campaign may yet be consigned to the archives.
Following President Lungu’s launch, government offices are expected to be sparkling clean because workers will not only rely on staff from cleaning companies.
For instance, Government Complex should become cleaner than it currently is.
Given its proximity, government ministries operating from Government Complex should create some ambient environment to make the premises the envy of all.
What about creating space for a botanical garden and some lawns?
Public service workers have a premium to make Zambia clean, green and healthy.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.

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