By Henry Kyambalesa
Our brother President Edgar C. Lungu was in North-Western Province (NWP) on July 12, 2021 for a two-day working visit. The message in this article is intended not only for him but for the Patriotic Front, my fellow citizens in NWP and for all my fellow Zambians who have the development interests of our beloved country at heart.
The alarming “poverty” and “inequality” situation in Zambia that Alexander Chikwanda is reported as having decried in a news story by Edwin Mbulo of the defunct The Post Newspaper of February 10, 2014 entitled “Poverty, Inequality Levels in Zambia Unacceptably High – Chikwanda” has continued to be as true and prevalent today as it was then. And our fellow citizens in North-Western Province are not spared from the crisis.
The Patriotic Front (PF) assumed the reins of power in 2011 and has ruled the country over the last 10 years, during which levels of poverty and inequality have continued to worsen for all Zambians in all the 10 provinces irrespective of their political affiliations. Asking citizens for 5 more years to fix problems they have failed to address over a period of 10 years is, therefore, laughable at best.
Education and Skills Training:
North-Western Province now needs leaders who will be devoted to building more primary and secondary schools, and to rehabilitate old ones, in order to make it possible for each and every child in the Province to have access to education near their homes in all the districts—that is, in Chavuma, Kabompo, Kalumbila, Kasempa, Manyinga, Mufumbwe, Mushindamo, Mwinilunga, Solwezi, and Zambezi districts.
Besides, there is a need for leaders who will ensure that higher education and vocational training in the Province are enhanced by rehabilitating existing facilities, and by building additional institutions of higher learning, as well as requiring such institutions to offer training programs that will be consistent with the needs of commerce and industry, including the processing of minerals, mangoes, pineapples, Kaimbwe salt, honey, leather, timber, cassava, coffee, bananas, beans, and sweet potatoes.
Further, there is a need for leaders who will address the problems facing educational and training institutions, including the lack of teachers, instructors, housing, educational supplies and equipment, inadequate salaries and allowances, and entertainment at all the educational and training institutions in the Province.
With respect to housing, my traditional cousin and PF Vice President Inonge Wina has just admitted during her visit to Mwandi District in Western Province that the government was aware that some civil servants in rural areas were living in ramshackle structures.
She said the situation will change in the next 5 years as the government will construct decent accommodation for teachers, and further revealed that the government will recruit more teachers that will be posted to schools, especially schools in rural areas.
So, 10 years of being in government was not enough to fix some of these crucial issues and problems, but 5 years will be enough? And Zambians are expected to believe and blindly embrace such political rhetoric?
Talk about poverty and inequality, talk about economic growth and employment, talk about externally secured loans, talk about corruption, talk about public housing, talk electricity and clean water, talk about education and training, talk about healthcare and sanitation, talk about civil servants’ wages and salaries, talk about retirement benefits, and talk about politically inspired violence.
The common people have continued to spend sleepless nights wondering if any of the socioeconomic ills and crises relating to these aspects and facets of their livelihoods will ever be addressed during their life time.
Like other provinces in Zambia, North-Western Province needs leaders who will be devoted to ensuring that salaries and allowances are timely disbursed to all the districts so that teachers and other civil servants will not have to trek to designated locations to pick up their money only to be told that their dues are not yet available.
And because of the importance of students’ physical and intellectual development in nurturing active and productive citizens, our country’s 10 provinces need leaders who will be devoted to the promotion of sport in schools, colleges and universities. In this endeavour, government officials will need to provide for sports facilities, athletics, soccer, boxing, basketball, badminton, and netball at all educational institutions.
Public Health and Sanitation:
There is a need for leaders who will be devoted to continue to provide for free life-saving healthcare for all Zambians, and rehabilitate existing urban and rural health centres in all the provinces, as well as build new ones.
And leaders who will be devoted to the improvement of conditions of service for healthcare personnel, employ more healthcare personnel, and ensure that healthcare facilities throughout the country have adequate stocks of medicines and medical supplies and equipment regardless of whether they are operated by missionaries, mining companies or the government.
With respect to the North-Western province, efforts in these endeavours will need to apply to all major healthcare facilities, which include the Chavuma, Kabompo, Loloma, Kalene Mission, Mwinilunga, Chitokoloki Mission, Zambezi, Mukinge, and Solwezi hospitals.
Besides, there will be a need to construct a nursing school in Mwinilunga, and upgrade the Solwezi School of Nursing so that it can offer Registered Nursing services.
Culture and Local Traditions:
Culture and both family and traditional values as essential and indispensable elements of Zambian society. Therefore, Zambia desperately needs leaders who will be devoted to make an earnest effort to promote cultural and traditional events in North-Western Province, including the following:
- The Chisemwa Cha Lunda ceremony of the Lunda people in Senior Chief Kanongesha’s area in Mwinilunga district held in August;
- The Nsomo ceremony of the Kaonde people in Senior Chief Kasempa’s area in Kasempa district held in June;
- The Kupupa ceremony of the Kaonde people in Senior Chief Kalilele’s area in Solwezi district held in July;
- The Lunda Lubanza ceremony of the Lunda people in Senior Chief Ishindi’s area in Zambezi district held in August;
- The Lukwakwa ceremony of the Mbunda people in Senior Chief Sikufele’s area in Kabompo district held in October;
- The Makundu ceremony of the Kaonde people in Senior Chief Mushima’s area in Mufumbwe district held in August;
- The Chivweka ceremony of the Luchazi people in Chief Kalunga’s area in Kabompo district held in June;
- The Mbunda Liyoyelo ceremony of the Mbunda people in Chief Chiyengele’s area in Kabompo district held in October;
- The Kunyanta Ntanda ceremony of the Kaonde people in Chief Kapijimpanga’s area in Solwezi district held in July;
- The Ntongo ceremony of the Kaonde people in Chief Chizera’s area in Mufumbwe district held in September;
- The Kuvuluka Kishakulu ceremony of the Lamba people in Chief Matebo’s area in Solwezi district held in September;
- The Kufukwila ceremony of the Kaonde people in Chief Mukumbi’s area in Solwezi district held in May;
- The Likumbi Lya Mize ceremony of the Luvale people in Senior Chief Ndungu’s area in Zambezi district held in August;
- The Lubinda Ntongo ceremony of the Kaonde people in Senior Chief Mumena’s area in Solwezi district held in August; and
- The Nyawunda ceremony of the Lunda people in Senior Chief Sailunga’s area in Mwinilunga district held in July.
Other Projects and Programs:
There are a lot of important projects and programs which the new government will need to pursue in the North-Western Province in order to improve the socio-economic well-being of residents. These projects and programs include the following:
- Construction of a bridge on the Zambezi river to connect the east bank to the west bank where discoveries of oil and gas deposits have been made in Chavuma and Zambezi districts in order to facilitate the exploitation of, and further exploration for, oil and gas and other minerals.
- Completion of the tarring and maintenance of major roads in the entire province, including the Mutanda-Chavuma (M8) road, Solwezi-Lumwana road, and the Solwezi-Kipushi road.
- Tarring and maintenance of local streets throughout the province. In Solwezi district, for example, there will be a need to upgrade Kimasala, Kyafukuma, Mbonge, Messengers, Kyalalankuba, and Kansanshi Mine streets in collaboration with the Kansanshi Foundation.
- Construction of the planned railway line from Chingola to Benguela in Angola through Solwezi and Mwinilunga districts, maintenance of the Mwinilunga-Jimbe road which links Zambia to Angola, and active participation in the construction of a dual carriage way from Chingola to Lumwana.
- Improvement of infrastructure at Solwezi airport, rehabilitation of all airstrips in the province, and expansion of Kifubwa, Solwezi, Mutanda, Mundanya, and other major bridges in the Province.
- Development and maintenance of roads leading to tourist centres—that is, the Kifubwa National Monument, Mutanda Falls in Solwezi, Nyambwezu National Monument, Zambezi Source National Monument, Zambezi Rapids in Mwinilunga East and West, Lunga National Parks in Mufumbwe and Kasempa, Chinyingi Foot Bridge, Chavuma Rapids, and the Zambezi beach.
- Improve accommodation standards in tourist centres by providing incentives for the construction of motels and 5-star hotels (similar to the new Royal Solwezi Hotel and Villas in Solwezi) throughout the province.
- Speed up the connection of areas of districts in the province that do not currently have electrical power to the national electricity grid, and provide incentives for private investment in revamping the Mwinilunga Cannery factory.
- Construct barracks in Chavuma, Mwinilunga and Solwezi for army officers at border towns, revive the Kafunfula Zambia National Service (ZNS) camp in Kasempa district, as well as construct houses for ZNS, police, military, and immigration officers in the province. An additional immigration border post will also be built in the province at Ndunga in Kabompo district on Zambia’s border with Angola to control illegal traffic and trade across the border.
- Improvement of the availability of safe and clean water throughout the province through boreholes, dams, water pipes, and protected shallow wells, and also provide for modern sewage facilities and both public and private rest rooms.
- Upgrading of resettlement schemes in the province by providing financial and material resources for constructing and/or rehabilitating boreholes, water wells, irrigation dams and canals, feeder roads, culverts, low-cost houses, clinics, basic schools, police posts, and other essential public services and facilities.
Such schemes include the Kafumfula Resettlement Scheme in Kasempa district, the Kazhiba Resettlement Scheme in Solwezi district, the Kikonge Resettlement Scheme in Mufumbwe district, the Litoya Resettlement Scheme in Kabompo district, the Luwe Resettlement Scheme in Kabompo district, the Chikenge Resettlement Scheme in Chief Kalunga’s area, the Kayombo Resettlement Scheme in Chief Chiyengele’s area, the Mikelenge / Luma farm block in Solwezi district, the Mumbeji Resettlement Scheme in Senior Chief Sikufele’s area, the Munwinji Resettlement Scheme in Mwinilunga district, the Solwezi Resettlement Scheme in Solwezi district, and the State Ranch Resettlement Scheme in Solwezi district.
Since HH and the UPND Alliance have shown the potential to unseat the patriotic Front next month, we need to support them, as well as entrust them with responsibility of correcting the catalogue of socioeconomic ills and crises which the Patriotic Front has failed to address over the last 10 years.