CONSTITUENCY WATCH with MACKSON WASAMUNU, Lusaka
LIKE most rural constituencies, the main economic activity for Bahati constituency, located in Mansa district of Luapula Province, is agriculture.
The immediate past area member of Parliament, Harry Kalaba, recognizes just how fundamental agriculture to the people of Bahati is. To that effect, Mr Kalaba has organized for the training of about 40 small scale farmers in agriculture from all the nine wards in the constituency.
It is hoped that their six-month long training in China will reinvigorate their energies to deal with the most basic problem of most communities, which is food insecurity.
â€œYou see, in the life of Bahati constituency thereâ€™s never been initiatives such as this one mooted by the MP to consider training of farmers in agriculture,â€ says Kasongo Mumba, one of the residents of Bahati.
â€œThis development will remain unequalled for many years to come because it will empower small-scale farmers with new skills that will help transform their lives completely.â€
For a long time, Zambia has been dependent on copper and, in the process, neglected other areas such as agriculture.
But having been hit hard by the drop in commodity prices on the international market, the country is seriously looking at diversifying the economy.
Zambia has suffered severe blows to the economy following Chinaâ€™s economic slowdown and the subsequent drop in global commodity prices.
Estimates by some experts say the drop in commodities prices has caused the country to lose about 50 percent of its income. About between 70 percent and 85 percent of the countryâ€™s export revenue is in copper, and China is the number one recipient, taking 42 percent of its exports.
To counter this downward trend, the government is encouraging investment in a number of different sectors, including agriculture.
Bahati must therefore be on the right track.
The people and Mr Kalaba recognise that agriculture is one surest way of lifting people out of poverty.
But it is not just agriculture that is being promoted; education has also been put on the front foot. The people and Mr Kalaba, working together, have placed the role education plays at the centre of development.
Mr Kalaba has marshalled all his efforts building classroom blocks to increase classroom accommodation, sometimes using personal resources while working with the locals who have mainly provided manpower.
In Bahati, Government is constructing a K46 million secondary school.
Works on Kalanga Secondary School, which began in August 2013, are expected to be completed this year.
â€œThis is a very big project and the workmanship is very neat,â€ Mr Kalaba said about the school.
â€œWe are in dire need of education infrastructure, and facilities on which Government has spent a lot of money should be seen to be completed. We have declared war against illiteracy as Government.â€
Kalanga would be the second Government-run secondary school in the constituency after Mansa Secondary School once it is completed.
And with the Ministry of General Education revising the curriculum to introduce Information Communication Technology (ICT) as a basic subject from grade one to 12, one of the primary schools in the constituency – Chofoshi Primary School – received a donation of computers and printers from the Chinese Embassy valued at US$10,000.
Apart from urging pupils in the constituency to learn ICT related subjects in line with the new curriculum, Mr Kalaba has used personal resources as well as his network to donate computers and laptops to different schools.
This gesture by Mr Kalaba has been lauded by many including the Ministry of General Education representative in Luapula Province Severin Masesa.
Mr Masesa, who has received donations of computers and laptops on behalf of different schools from Mr Kalaba, observes he has shown that he has the desire to develop education standards in the area.
Mr Kalaba is also Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Another Bahati resident Wisdom Mpelembe is happy that a number of schools have received a facelift with classroom accommodation being increased.
â€œChofwe-Chisunka gravel, Mansa Kalaba Road, Mansa Kabunda, and Kabende Kasongole roads have all been worked on and are very important to farmers,â€ Mr Mpelembe says.
â€œWe have seen the upgrading of Senama Urban Clinic with a maternity ward, construction of Chimfula Clinic, Chibinda Clinic, Sepe Clinic, Chansa clinic in Mushipashi Ward, Fiyongoli Clinic and Kasamba Clinic in Mansa Ward; others are Matelo Clinic.â€
Mr Mpelembe says all the clinics will have boreholes done according to the design of the projects.
He says the Constituency now has two tipper trucks and one Front End loader bought using Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
And Mr Tyton Chishala of Kakuka village is happy that a number of schools such as Kaole Primary School, Ntoposhi Primary school, Kapanda Primary school and Chimese Primary School have been electrified.
Mr Chishala is also happy that Kabunda Girls High Schools is earmarked for rehabilitation while Don Bosco Secondary School, owned by the Catholic Church, received a donation of a minibus from Mr Kalaba.
Some of the works in the constituency include the construction of teachersâ€™ houses and classroom spaces at Matelo, Musaila, Kasanse, Ntoposhi and Bahati Primary.
Additionally, communication towers have been mounted at Matanda, Bahati Seminary and at Kalaba.
And apart from purchasing an ambulance using money from the CDF, a borehole has been sunk at Kalaba Clinic and a market shelter has been constructed.
Mr Mumba is happy that the Chamawabuseba to Mikaili road as well as Kabondo to Chamawabuseba roads have been improved to gravel roads to help farmers transport their farm produce easily. The gravel road to Senama Urban Clinic as well as most of the township roads in the area have also been graded.
Alfred Kasompe, a resident of Mushipashi ward, says there has been development in the constituency in terms of infrastructure.
â€œWe have seen construction of health facilities and schools in only four years and seven months. However, some of our communities do not have clean water, we need boreholes so that this problem that persists during the dry season ends,â€ Kasompe says.
Bahati constituency is situated in Mansa district of Luapula Province and people in the area are predominantly farmers growing cassava and maize among other crops.
There are 17,823 households in constituency with a total population of 92,040 of which 45,676 are males while 46,364 are females according to the 2010 census which covered both standard census topics as well as new ones.
Apart from agriculture, Bahati, which once housed Mansa Batteries, also has large deposits of manganese and lime but have not been fully exploited.
Starring Kaushi (UNIP)
1964 – 1974
Simon Chisha Kalaba (UNIP)
1974 – 1991
Valentine Kayope (MMD) 1991 – 2001
Emmanuel Chungu (MMD) 2001 – 2006
Edwin Besa Chimbaka
(MMD) 2006 – 2011
Harry Kalaba (PF)
2011 – 2016
CONSTITUENCY WATCH with MACKSON WASAMUNU, Lusaka