Focus on Members of Parliament:
CHRISTINE CHISHA, Lusaka
WHEN Milanzi Member of Parliament (MP) Whiteson Banda completed his secondary school, his dream was to be a professional footballer despite his passion to help in the development of the nation.
His dream of playing for the biggest teams in the nation never came as he got a job immediately after school as a petrol attendant at a filling station in Katete district.
It was while working as a petrol attendant that he developed an interest in reading newspapers that further ignited his passion of contributing to the development of the nation particularly Milanzi Constituency.
“I saw that a number of constituencies were developing and nothing much was happening in my constituency. I was prompted to be a politician and joined the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD).
“In 2010, the then MP Rueben Banda died and I applied on the MMD ticket to stand and I was nominated and won the seat for the former ruling party,” Mr Banda said.
Since being elected in 2010, Mr Banda has focused on ensuring that his constituency gets a fair share of the national cake.
In 2015 he joined the Patriotic Front (PF) and in 2016 stood under the ruling party. “I am happy that my constituency is seeing development amid challenges.”
Mr Banda since being elected to Parliament has prioritised building more schools, health posts and the provision of safe and clean water across the constituency.
When he was elected as MP, the area had only four health posts and since 2010, the residents of Milanzi have seen the construction of 11 more health posts.
Mr Banda said people are excited in the constituency because they have health posts near their homes.
“My constituency is huge with eleven wards. What I did was to push and ensure that the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) goes to projects,” he said.
In the education sector, the MP has spearheaded the construction of four primary schools.
The constituency has also seen most schools and health posts being electrified under the Rural Electrification Authority (REA).
“The electrification of some schools will help learners in practical subjects such as computers and food and nutrition”.
The MP is also excited by the installation of communication towers by Ministry of Transport and Communication which has enhanced mobile phone communication, especially with the coming of the electronic voucher system for farmers.
While Mr Banda has scored some success in the seven years he has been MP, the constituency is facing challenges in the road sector. He said the gravel roads need attention and has since appealed to the Ministry of Local Government to attend to the roads once the rainy season is over.
He said the issue of dams is also another area that needs urgent attention.
“Despite the vastness of the constituency, there are only two dams and many people are have livestock and both people and animals need water,” he said.
Mr Banda is seeking the expansion of women empowerment programmes in the constituency.
He said there are more than 100 women clubs and most of them are registered with PACRA but they lack funds to start income generating programmes.
He said many women need empowerment as the funds they are getting from the social cash fund are not enough to sustain their families.
The MP also appealed for the construction of more secondary schools in the area the schools to cater for the growing population.
In agriculture, the MP said his constituency is predominantly a farming community, with most families depending on the sales of their farm produce.
Mr Banda who recalled how his constituency suffered with hunger in the 2014/15 farming season said there is need for people to be food secure and avoid hunger in their homes.
He said government through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) this year has demonstrated good will to its farmers in the district. He said recently he took a tour of FRA satellite deposits in his constituency and found that the selling and buying of maize was going on smoothly.
He said farmers will be happy if government sticks to its promise of paying farmers 10 days after their supply in order to help them prepare for the next farming season.
Mr Banda who is inspired politically by late President Sata said he wants to leave Milanzi better than he found it seven years ago.
“Though I am still energetic and eager to work, I will only quit as MP if the people of Milanzi reject me. I joined politics because I felt I was the right person to develop the constituency.
“Apart from taking development to Milanzi constituency, I want to be a voice for coherent policy making which recognizes some basic realities, the reality that the challenges we are facing today are not insurmountable but require a change in mindset and continued work,” he said.
Mr Banda is still passionate about football. He is captain of the National Assembly social football club. He also sits on the committee of Sports and Youth in Parliament.