CONTROVERSY has emerged at St Marys Secondary School in Lusaka’s Woodlands area where parents want to halt the construction of a shopping mall within the school premises. This follows the alleged talks between Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC), who are the owners of the land and a South African company that agreed to construct a shopping mall at a piece of land within the school premises.
The parents were, however, against the idea, saying this would encourage pupils to engage in bad vices and disturb their education, as was the current situation with the already crossroads shopping mall nearby. One of the parents Mabvuso Sinda disclosed in an interview with the Daily Nation that ZEC was allegedly planning to rent out part of its land to a South African company because it had financial problems.
Mr Sinda, however, said first priority should be given to the pupils so that they were able to learn in an environment that did not disturb their education. “The piece of land where the school is situated belongs to ZEC and they want to rent out part of it to a foreign company that wants to build a shopping mall on it. But we, the parents, are objecting to that because it will be a disturbance to the pupils. We confronted ZEC and they said that they are in need of money that’s why they want to rent out the land,” he explained.
Mr Sinda said that ZEC should have consulted parents before giving a go ahead to the contractor, who he said was already doing survey work on the site.
He said that the school management was in no position to negotiate with ZEC because it was run by Catholic sisters while ZEC brings together the Catholic bishops.
Mr Sinda said that the project was not in public interest and he has since advised ZEC to allocate the land for the school management to build a library.
Ms Agatha Muyunda, another concerned parent, explained that her fears were that the girls would be prone to harassment by male workers and taxi drivers at the mall. And St Mary’s Secondary School Parents Teachers’ Association (PTA) chairperson said that she could not comment on the matter because it was still under negotiation.
She, however, disclosed that another meeting between the parents, ZEC and the contractor would be convened soon.