KELVIN MBEWE, Rufunsa
WHAT do politicians do when they lose an election? Some petition, some go back to the drawing board immediately while some quit completely and go to live private lives.
After serving in public office for over 20 years in various capacities, former Rufunsa Member of Parliament Kenneth Chipungu had to step down last year following his loss to Sheal Mulyata of the United Party for National Development (UPND).
But Mr Chipungu says he is busier than when he was in public office.
After losing the election, Mr Chipungu decided to step down from active politics to concentrate on his businesses.
He had previously served as Chongwe and Luangwa District Commissioner in the Levy Mwanawasa government before becoming North-Western Province minister, Lusaka Province minister and Minister of Sports, Youth and Child Development under Rupiah Banda, Michael Sata and Edgar Lungu.
“After the 2016 elections, I think in terms of business, am on top of things but of course am still supporting the Patriotic Front (PF) party,” he says.
“I have quite a number of businesses such as micro financing, I remember a time when so many members of Parliament used to borrow money from my company called Chibuyu Finance Company.
“I also ventured into money changing activities and established Chibuyu Bureau de Change and ventured into insurance and came up with Creative Insurance Brokers Limited. And am also in the hospitality industry, farming, car hire, real estate management just to mention a few.”
It is easy to understand when he says he is far busier now than when he was in politics.
Mr Chipungu has also ventured into the construction of filling stations and is the proprietor of Rufunsa Filling Station which is nearing completion.
“We will soon construct another one in Rufunsa at a place called Sinjela which is about 100 kilometres from Lusaka and it’s 70 kilometres from Chongwe to Sinjela that is why we want to feel in the gap,” he says. “Our target is to put up two more filling stations before 2021, that will be just about it.”
Mr Chipungu says the difference between him and others that have retired from politics is that he has never rested from the day he lost.
“What makes you hate politics after stopping is having nothing to do but if you have something to keep you busy, then you don’t get bothered,” he says. “One other thing is that if you are good to people while serving them, they will equally be good to you when you are no longer holding the political position.”
He says he has always related well with people from all walks of life.
But they say once a politician always a politician? He agrees.
“Once you are a politician, you are always a politician. I have not stopped interfacing with the people from the time I lost. I have been going back to the people of Rufunsa to say thank you even though I lost because I know that some of them voted for me and despite that, am one of the longest serving member of Parliament in Rufunsa,” he says.
“People of Rufunsa hardly give two terms to one person but for me they gave me two terms that is the more reason why I go back to interact with them and thank them for choosing President Lungu and other PF officials in Rufunsa.
“To answer your question on whether I will go back to politics or not, I think let us wait and see because I know that there are also young men that are interested in taking part in politics.”
Still, Mr Chipungu has some advice to those wishing to hold public office, particularly as an MP.
“It’s not just about being called honourable but about what one will offer to the people,” he says.
“If you ask me what I have done, I will tell you that before I was MP of Rufunsa, the constituency was very neglected. We were at one time under Lusaka rural, then we went to Kafue rural and then Luangwa and then we came to Chongwe. We had no hospitals, no schools, no bridges, but when you go there now through my lobbying from the government, there is a district, electricity, hospitals, secondary schools which were not there in the past. There was no tarmac in the area, various places were impassable but now things have drastically changed.”
But whatever, politics is a dirty game and Mr Chipungu is perhaps better off not venturing into it again.
“Politics is not dirty and will never be dirty, it’s us who want to make it dirty,” he says. “Even when am campaigning myself, I never insult my opponents. Even in Parliament, when I spoke, I never insulted anybody, one just has to talk about issues, let me give you an example, President Edgar Lungu and his team are working, why I should insult them.
“It only becomes dirty when you start insulting each other. When one wins an election, whether a president, a member of Parliament, councillor or mayor, give them chance to work. Bring your politics when the time for campaigns starts.”