If you’re are a new comer to Lusaka, you may or may not have heard of the much talked about Donchi Kebeba market.
This eye-sore illegal trading facility is located on the right side of Independence Avenue Flyover Bridge, and directly opposite the 23-storey FINDECO House, owned by the National Housing authority (NHA).
The word itself, Donchi Kubeba, is a mystic-language or sayings that means ‘don’t tell them’, and it came to the fore as a street tone in the heat of during the 2011 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections that saw the Movement of Multiparty Democracy (MMD) being kicked out of power by then the biggest opposition party in Zambia-The Patriotic Front “PF”.
The PF or the ‘Boat People’ took Zambia by storm as their ‘More Jobs-More Money in the Pocket message appealed to women and young voters.
I believe the Donchi Kubeba motto started in the Copper-belt province of Zambia and it was being used by the call-boys aka ‘Kabovas. At times this saying was used and is still used as a disparaging attribute of anyone with Copperbelt roots.
In addition, women and young voters throughout Zambia were enticed with message promising better jobs and more in their communities and individual pockets.
These young people were also motivated by money and beer which those vying for elective political posts at local government, parliamentary and presidential office threw at them.
The drinking sprees and political money painted a bright future in the minds of the youthful and female-women electorate. Money that was being given to them by certain individuals, who were competing for various political positions in anticipation that at the end of the day or election phase, more jobs and money would keep flowing.
The Patriotic Front “PF” adopted this motto and it became their campaign theme during their 2011 campaign trail. It’s alleged/ believed that the Patriotic Front “PF” used to incite its voters to ‘take’ whatever ‘political freebies-branded materials’ such as bicycles, wall clocks, wrist watches, lolly pops and Chitenge materials given by other political parties more especially those depicting the then ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and pretend that their vote is for that party or individual, but come election day, these ‘clandestine voters’ voted for President Michael Chilufya Sata, affectionately referred to as the ‘King Cobra’ . Most of the people who were standing for elections lost because of this deceptive mechanism. These politicians thought that all the potential voters being enticed and eating, drinking beer lavishly would vote for them, when in fact not! In the end, instead of the voters being used and manipulated by the politicians, the politicians became the victims of this subtle Donchi Kubeba political message.
Rumour has it that, the market was set up by youthful vendors masquerading as Patriotic Front cadres and to date spearheading the allocation of trading space to prospective trades at Donchi Kubeba.
Talk about this so called illegal market was the order of the day in 2012, by locals, Lusaka City Council, radio presenters and prominent people in society , so my mind kept wondering why all this talk about the market? Maybe there must be more to this politically motivated market! Or it’s the normal talk that Zambia’s love to do whenever the notice something new and unusual coming up. I took a liberty of passing though the Donchi Kubeba market as I was trying to take short cut footpath while I was heading to the New Government Complex. Upon entering this filthy market, I was welcomed by the disgusting scent that comes from the surrounding area and the market itself. Seems like normal trading goes on at this place but the types of businesses that being conducted are out of the usual market trading and also looking at the location of the market, it seems unhealthy trading is the order of the day. There are no visible sanitary facilities, and my conclusion is that these illegal traders defecate or answer the call of nature anywhere, especially in disposable beer sachets. Just the way make shift stands are placed and built, with no regard to law and order shows that local authority in this case the Lusaka City Council have been overlooked by these hooligans, hiding in political party affiliation.
It’s easy for one to notice why this unplanned so called market as a depressing odour. Human waste can be seen as one enters the place from the rail line tracks. No make shift toilets or sanitary facilities are available for these trades. Most of them use the surrounding shrubs to help themselves so long it’s hidden. But same trader or patrons from Donchi Kubeba are seen during the day helping themselves out in the nearby places such as the dormant train carriages and wall fences. As I was inside the Donchi Kubeba I could not help but almost vomiting because each time my eyes looked around I could see human waste lying, but surprisingly, people found loitering seemed normal. The discomforting scent that’s here especially when it is damp, leaves one to wonder how these people manage to trade in such deplorable conditions. Thoughts in my mind kept running and one clicked that this type of set up is unhealthy for both the people found here and the all Lusaka. Moreover its rain season and these are good conditions for water born diseases to breed/start from. If an outbreak of cholera was to break out here it would be a big disaster. Donchi Kubeba is located near Intercity Bus terminal Zambia’s biggest local and international bus travelers’ transit point and the every busy Kamwala shopping center. Invariably, failure to control this depressing health hazard would cause government through the Ministry of Health to spend huge sums of monies to control the outbreak. This intervention would also result in public resources meant for equally important sectors of the economy being diverted to mitigate cholera outbreaks and other water-borne diseases such as dysentery money that can be channelling to other important sectors. So why not demolish this market??? By treating Donchi Kubeba market as a sacred cow, a cholera time-bomb is ticking!!
The type of businesses is another source of concern which Lusaka Mayor Daniel Chisenga must look into! I observed that the most lucrative business at Donchi Kubeba market is indiscriminate trading in opaque beer. If my mind servers me right I remember that Public Relations Officer, Herny Kapata from Lusaka Cued time without number that no one can trade in any alcoholic beverage without the liquor license. So does this mean these traders at Donchi Kubeba market traders are above the law? The Donchi Kubeba theory really works protective cover here. The common beer I saw being openly sold is the ‘Shake Shake’ disposable packs, and I guess these are used by the patrons to answer the call of nature.
Clothes’ can be seen being sold on a few stands or what every the call them! Mostly from Kamwala and same ‘Salaula’ “Second hand Clothes”, though slower than guys selling opaque beer. My eyes were caught by surprise when I saw roots of all kinds, bottles with crazy looking mixtures in them, and it clicked! I was standing in front of a traditional doctor’s stand. Though they brand themselves as herbalists, I have no doubt in my mind that these masquerades are not affiliated to Dr Rodwell Vongo’s Traditional Healers and Practitioners Association of Zambia (TPHAZ).
I just saw two traditional doctors at this market trading openly. All, these businesses I know there certain authorities administering and superintending over and these people are the ones who even sell male manhood enlargement potions without knowing the right doses and dire consequences of dispensing such herbs. Even though it’s Donchi Kubeba please it should make these people feel like they can trade in anything they want in such unhealthy conditions. I would not be surprised if I was to find people trading in any other illegal stuff such as drugs and guns. Maybe it must be happening even as I write, who know? It’s don’t tell, just act.
This should cause panic especially among City Fathers-Lusaka City Council I wonder if Vice-President Dr Guy Scott, as Lusaka Central Member of Parliament is aware. The political Donchi Kubeba market is making Lusaka City Council job to make Lusaka city clean difficult. How will their motto of make Lusaka city clean come to fruition if local authorities continue to let the status call hold sway? Why should an ugly market be kept? Don’t know but am sure someone out there in the higher authority as got an answer for it. People have talked and it would be better for every citizen and foreign visitors to mingle in hygienic conditions aspired to in the Lusaka City Council and Ministry of Local Government and Housing Dream of restoring the ‘Garden City Status. And especially will co-host the United Nations World Tourism Organization UNWTO.
The Donchi Kubeba market is illegal and interested parties have a right to raise concern. Talking is good but action as emphasized throughout Zambia’s 5th Republican President Michael Chilufya Sata’s illustrious political career speaks louder. Such land can be used for something better that can make each citizen appreciate than seeing a few selfish people benefit from this scam. At the end government has got the final say about this place, to keep it or demolish it completely and let the dust settle for good.