THE Lusaka High Court has deferred the hearing of the case of Lubuma marketeers versus Kamwala market management under China Heinan over the dollarization of rentals at the premises.
Scores of Lubama market traders turned up for the scheduled court hearing before Mr Justice Mwiinde Siavwapa but were informed by their lawyer Paul Katupisha that the matter was being allocated another date.
Mr Katupisha urged the traders to be calm and wait for the courts to resolve the matter and avoid any attempts to disturb the legal process.
He told the traders to continue paying the shopping complex management rent at the old rate until the courts decided the over the matter.
Mr Katupisha told the traders that he had arranged a meeting with the defendants to work out payment plan for rent during the period of the court case.
“We have arranged for a meeting with the defendants to agree on the amounts due at the old rate and not the revised rentals in dollars.
“We should not have any arrears based on the old rates until the court concludes the matter,” Mr Katupisha said.
He said the management had no authority to lock them out for failure to pay rentals unless with a court order but advised them to pay up all outstanding arrears they were owing.
The traders were in court to contest market management‘s demand of rentals to be paid equivalent of United States dollar with some customers expected to pay from US$400 per month.
Meanwhile, the traders have called on the Lusaka City Council to revise the 65-year lease awarded to China Heinan as it would not benefit the coumncil or the traders.
Deputy publicity secretary for the marketeers Marvelous Mwila said they were concerned with the long term effects of the lease which had so far failed to yield expected benefits for the traders or the local authority.
Mr Mwila said it was possible that soon many Zambian traders would be barred from doing business at the market as it would be too expensive for them.
“This is a market and not a shopping mall and a 65-year lease means they have no authority as a local authority and stand to lose out on rent from the market stalls.
“What the council should be looking at is means and ways of raising their own revenue from the marketers through the different levies at the facility,” he said.
He said China Heinan acquired the property through a Private Public Partnership but that traders have been sidelined as beneficiaries at the facility because they have not benefited anything from the deal.