Editor's Comment

The mayor Lusaka wants

THERE is a lot of interest in the vacant seat for the mayor of the greater city of Lusaka – from contestants and voters.The by-election for the mayoral position is therefore likely to be keenly contested, going by the growing interest.
There are various reasons why the mayoral position in the capital city has generated a lot of enthusiasm. Key among these is that the position is now full-time.
This follows the enactment of the constitution in 2016. The mayor now has executive powers and can, therefore, ostensibly, own and drive his or her vision.
So while some may be looking for a job that will not only pay them a salary but enjoy the status of the alderman of the city with almost free entry to any social or Government function, others could have a city vision in mind.
The current tumultuous and frenetic upsurge in the number of candidates vying to take over the vacant position seems to be because of the genuine desire to improve the management of the affairs affecting the city of Lusaka.
The desire by many citizens of Lusaka is to have a mayor who can take up and effectively deal with the mammoth challenges that come with the supposed glamour of the office.
The denizens want the city to significantly change for the better and they place the bulk of the onus on the mayor. It is because of this that they will, or will be expected to, thoroughly scrutinise those that are stepping forward to be considered.
Those that have already made public their intentions to contest the seat, are virtually united in word that Lusaka needs a major development and environment shake-up.
The city lags in many areas and this is the driving factor for those that believe that with them in the driving seat they can lead Lusaka to the desired collective goal of a robust and clean city.
Lusaka has a lot of opportunities to improve because it is probably the largest beneficiary of development from Central government and private developers – at corporate, individual, church and non-governmental organisation levels.
Lusaka is a fastest growing city and this is an opportunity to make the local authority financially self-reliant.
This phenomenal growth however is expected to be sustained by cleanliness.
Government set the pace in cleaning up the city following the outbreak of cholera and the local authority should sustain the momentum. A mayor may have his or her vision, but this must be aligned with that drawn and being implemented by the Central Government.
For instance, the local authority, regardless of who the mayor is, cannot divorce itself from the Government programme to make Zambia clean, green and healthy. The difference is in who is best skilled to drive this programme for the city.
And talking about skills, the city definitely needs a mayor who has the ability to turn around the fortunes of the council from its financial challenges to one that makes profits and funds its programmes.
The local authority should also look beyond government funding by initiating development projects through public-private partnerships.
Lusaka is also facing the challenge of lack of space for development but an innovative mayor should be able to not only have good plans for overcoming these hurdles, but also have the drive to implement the ideas.
Tough decisions have to be made, for instance, on how to deal with shanty townships such as Chibolya, John Laing and Misisi, which are an eyesore.
Motorists are looking forward to expanded road infrastructure to ease congestion.
Fortunately for Lusaka, there are several road projects in the pipeline which include the second phase of the C400 and the US$289 million Lusaka Traffic Decongestion Project as the highlights.
For these roads to be sustained, however, the council should have proper plans on how to do so. The mayor must ably guide or lead accordingly.
The mayor is expected to think global and act local because of the myriad of opportunities. Exposure is at the disposal of the office holder at global and regional levels for replication.

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