BENEDICT TEMBO, Mongu
THE Patriotic Front (PF) administration has evidently been walking its talk in raising the profile of women by elevating them to positions of
One sector that has demonstrably implemented with zeal the vision of the ruling party in women empowerment is local government; it has promoted several competent women to lofty positions of town clerk and council secretary countrywide.
One deserving beneficiary of the position of town clerk is Shilla Chabalengula Songolo who has been entrusted with the enviable responsibility of being the principal officer at Mongu Municipal Council.
Mrs Songolo, who brings with her 15 years of experience in local government, is happy in her new role which has provided an opportunity for a wider managerial perspective in ensuring delivery of quality and efficient municipal services.
“My new role further entails an inclusive interaction with a much wider spectrum of stakeholders,” said Mrs Songolo, who was director of planning at Kitwe City Council, before her transfer in June this year.
As the chief executive officer of the council, which is the provincial headquarters of Western Province, she sees her role as that of being responsible for providing professional advice and co-ordinating operations and management of the local authority.
Mrs Songolo, 42, does that by imploring the principle of unity of purpose.
“I value the importance of working as a team and ensuring that no one is left behind,” she said.
Her first engagement in local government was upon completion of her tertiary education in 2002, and she has been in the system since then.
She was first appointed as a town planner for Kitwe City Council in the department of development Planning and later promoted to the positions of senior town planner, then deputy director and director of development planning, a position she held for one year and seven months before her appointment as Mongu Town Clerk.
She oversees about 145 employees at the council.
Mrs Songolo, who is married to Mwiya Songolo, an engineer whom she extols as a supportive husband, is a second born in a family of four.
She has one brother, Mwiinga and two sisters Vivien and Mayule.
The mother of two children, Makazo Kalinda Songolo (daughter) and Mwiya Kabunda Songolo (son), extols her mother as her biggest inspiration.
“My hero is my own mother, Ms Mary Chabalengula who always told us that success comes with hard work and that with God, all things are possible,” she says.
Her rise comes with its own challenges; she has to balance family and her hectic work schedule which ranges from office work by presiding over senior management meetings to attending full and sub-committee meetings of the council to field work.
The local authority has 10 departments that report to the full council, inclusive of the devolved responsibilities, namely finance, planning, administration, housing and social services, engineering services, public health, community development, primary health care, primary and early education and agriculture.
”My family’s support and encouragement has been my source of inspiration and motivation to soldier ahead in whatever I do,” she says.
“Apportioning time for family and office may be challenging sometimes. However despite my busy schedules, I always set some quality space for my family and at home, I am a wife and a mother.
“We have a very strong bond as a family so much that even in instances that I travel on duty, we are always in touch. We have also been encouraging one another as a family to aim higher in life through hard work.”
Mrs Songolo says demanding as the role may seem, it ultimately brings joy to the entire family.
“Above all, I always submit myself to God. I am a Christian and my strength as I execute my role is drawn from the scripture in the Bible from the book of Mathew 6: 33 ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’. I consider God’s guidance supreme and with his help everything falls in place. I am who I am because of the love and grace of God,” she enthuses.
Mrs Songolo is an urban planner by profession with expertise in physical and social economic development planning.
She holds a Master’s degree in Urban Management and Development with specialisation in Urban Social Development from the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS), Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
She attended her secondary school education at Kafue’s Naboye Secondary School and later studied for a Bachelor of Science degree in Urban and Regional Planning at the Copperbelt University.
Her prime responsibility is to ensure Mongu Municipal Council attains city status soon.