HONE SIAME, Kitwe
THE battle lines for the five parliamentary seats in Kitwe have been drawn with 25 candidates from various political parties successfully filing their nomination papers ahead of the August 11 general elections.
Two of the 25 candidates will contest as independents after being left out of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF)â€™s adoption process for this tightly-contested race which has only one female parliamentary candidate.
The ruling PF, United Party for National Development (UPND), Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), Rainbow Party, Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) and United Democratic Front (UDF) are the political parties that have successfully fielded candidates.
Interestingly, the PF has only re-adopted Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge to defend his Chimwemwe seat from the five immediate past parliamentarians.
Kamfinsaâ€™s Moses Chishimba, Kwachaâ€™s Boniface Mutale and Nkanaâ€™s Luxon Kazabu have not been re-adopted while Wusakileâ€™s Richard Musukwa will contest the Chililabombwe seat.
Mr Musenge, who has spearheaded a lot of development in Chimwemwe, is still enjoying a lot of support among the residents and is expected to retain the seat owing to the popularity of the PF in Kitwe and Copperbelt in general.
The soft-spoken politician is being challenged by Ronald Manenga of UPND, Rainbow Partyâ€™s Ignatius Nkonde, FDDâ€™s Edward Mwansa and his former constituency chairman Elias Mutale, who will contest as an independent.
â€œWhat we have done within the short period we have been in office speaks for itself. The people of Chimwemwe and the Zambian people should base their voting on the massive developments they have witnessed under the PF government,â€ Mr Musenge said.
He urged all well-meaning Zambians to reject politicians who want to use state power to advance their business interests at the expense of sustaining the unprecedented development taking place across the country.
Chimwemwe has received a fair share of development under the PF administration that has seen almost all the township roads tarred while the health and water sectors have equally received attention.
UPNDâ€™s Manenga says if elected Chimwemwe member of Parliament (MP), his priority will be to help the youth in the area by creating employment for them.
â€œYouths in the area indulge in illicit activities because of being unemployed,â€ Mr Manenga said.
Rainbow Partyâ€™s Nkonde claimed he is the best candidate to lead the people of Chimwemwe constituency and promised to construct a first-level hospital in the area and create jobs for the many unemployed youths.
In Wusakile constituency, PFâ€™s candidate Ackson Simwizye will face a tough challenge from independent candidate Pavyuma Kalobo, a member of a group of Copperbelt copper dealers, aka Jerabos, UPNDâ€™s Mundia Sikufele, Justin Katoka of FDD and another independent candidate Chisala Kazenene.
In Kwacha, the ruling party has fielded Joseph Malanji with UPND fielding a female candidate, Faith Mushongo, while Niza Phiri is contesting on the FDD ticket.
Others eyeing the Kwacha seat are Jerome Phiri, who is standing as an independent after being left out of the PF adoption process, and Rainbow Partyâ€™s Kelvin Saulo.
PFâ€™s Alexander Chiteme, UPNDâ€™s Divo Katete, FDDâ€™s Ernest Lulebi and Faton Mwale of Rainbow Party will battle it out for the Nkana seat.
For the Kamfinsa seat, six candidates have presented themselves before the constituents that include PFâ€™s Elario Musonda, Newton Chabala of Rainbow Party, Webby Chipili of MMD, FDDâ€™s Bright Lwiche, Stanley Mulenga of UPND and Dickson Ngâ€™andwe of the UDF.
Mr Musonda said: â€œWe will build on the existing work. A number of things have already been achieved. I know there are a number of challenges that have been identified and we will work on that together with people of my constituency.â€
On the other hand, Wusakile independent candidate Mr Kalobo, who opted to go it alone after the ruling party adopted Mr Simwizye, said the decision to resign from the PF was purely about respecting the will of the people of Wusakile and his conscience.
â€œI work for the people of Wusakile. I have been doing this for many years. The people know their own and that is why they pleaded with me to stand as an independent because they want their own to represent them. I will give support to President Edgar Lungu at presidential level but this decision is purely about sacrifice for the people and respecting this community where I have grown up and lived,â€ Mr Kalobo said.
But Mr Simwizye, who was overlooked in 2011 in preference for Mr Musukwa, said the people of Wusakile knew very well what President Lungu and the party had done and the determination to improve their living standards was there for all to see.
â€œI am a local businessman of Wusakile who understands problems of the people of Wusakile constituency and I will work towards addressing them. I will offer the people true and sincere leadership through hard work,â€ Mr Simwizye said.
PF Copperbelt Province chairperson Stephen Kainga has since called for unity among party members and urged those that were not adopted by the party to remain loyal to the party as the party has a lot of opportunities for them.
Kitwe, being the heart of Zambian politics and a PF stronghold, opposition and independent candidates wish to make history by winning any of the five seats.
They will be shouting the job losses slogan as well as load shedding to win sympathy from the voters.
But Government has put measures in place to cushion the impact of the recent job losses in the mining sector such as empowering them with land for farming and residential plots.
Priority is also being given to former miners for the jobs at the Edgar Chagwa Lungu Shopping Mall being developed at the Freedom Park.
Government is also implementating the C-400 road project as well as the US$200 million Nkana Water and Sewerage Company (NWSC) water and sanitation project in Kitwe.
It is now up to the voters themselves to decide through the ballot on August 11 on who should represent them in Parliament for the next five years.
HONE SIAME, Kitwe