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YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka
THE hardships people of Lufubu Constituency in Ngabwe district face propelled him to quit work as a civil servant and join politics.
Gift Chiyalika, who describes himself as a risk-taker, is the elected member of Parliament of the newly-created constituency in Central Province.
Mr Chiyalika, born on December 10, 1975, from George Chiyalika and Leni Nshamba, grew up in Lwamala area in Chief Ngabweâ€™s chiefdom.
An accountant by profession, the lawmaker did his primary education in Ngabwe and later left for Luanshya to live with his older sister and it is here that he completed his secondary school education at Luanshya Boys in 1994.
In 1996, Mr Chiyalika joined Thompson Hospital as a cashier and later rose to the position of accounting officer and district accountant for Luanshya respectively.
However, despite relocating to Luanshya, Mr Chiyalikaâ€™s â€œheartâ€ remained in his village. From time to time, he visited his family in Ngabwe.
For a long time, Mr Chiyalika could not contend the sufferings people in his village faced such as inadequate facilities in the education and health sectors, poor road infrastructure, and inadequate water and sanitation services among others.
It is this â€˜ill feelingâ€™ that he could not â€˜digestâ€™ that prompted him to resign from his position early this year and applied to be adopted as a candidate on the ruling partyâ€™s ticket in the tripartite August 11, polls.
However, Mr Chiyalikaâ€™s wife, Stella, was not too comfortable with the decision her husband made to quit his comfortable and pensionable job.
â€œAt first, my wife couldnâ€™t believe it when I informed her of my intentions of resigning from the civil service to join politics. Her thought was that I was running â€˜madâ€™ because my future in politics was not certain,â€ he says.
Mr Chiyalika followed his heart and quit work because of the love he has for people in the constituency.
â€œPolitics is a gamble, I know of colleagues who resigned from the civil service but were not adopted. You really need to calculate your moves.
â€œMy heart is in Ngabwe, it is my home. My mother lives there and the rest of my family members. I lost my father four months ago,â€ Mr Chiyalika laments.
The parliamentarian believes in risk-taking if one has to serve at a national level.
â€œAs you are aware, the adoption process was very competitive. My boss as well as my friends did not understand my decision to resign. They all wondered what had come over me.
â€œI believe in risk-taking. If I was not going to be adopted, I was going to look for other things to do but I would have also continued working for the ruling partyâ€ he says.
A father of two girls and a boy, Mr Chiyalika is happy with the support he received from his children.
â€œMy children are very supportive of my new career. In fact, my kids stood by me from the time I made a decision to join politics. They encouraged me to work hard. Iâ€™m very happy that my wife is also now supportive of my new career,â€ he says.
What attracted him to the ruling party?
It is the development oriented vision and its national character. The lawmaker is impressed with the vision of President Lungu to foster development even in areas the ruling party has no support.
â€œI was also attracted to the ruling party because of its manifesto which is pro-poor and it conceded with my constituency as 90 percent of people in the area are poor,â€ he says.
Mr Chayalika, though a political novice, emerged as favourite in the nominations at the district and constituency level in the three-horse race.
â€œIâ€™m sure the national level did their homework and decided to pick me as I was the most popular among the two other candidates,â€ he says with a smile.
What is his vision for the constituency?
Mr Chiyalika feels the area, which was previously part of Kapiri Mposhi Constituency was not ably presented by past MPs.
Being an indigenous Ngabwe resident, Mr Chiyalika plans to use his influence as a parliamentarian to foster development in the constituency in three tiers namely; short, medium and long term.
His first task is to ensure all people in the area access clean drinking water. He will ensure boreholes are sunk across the constituency. The MP also plans to utilise the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to construct more health posts.
He laments that currently, some people walk about 150km to access health care.
â€œI will liaise with Ngabwe council to ensure we prioritise construction of health posts in certain areas. For example, people of Lwamala area walk about 70 Km to Chisangwa to access health services. How can patients in critical condition survive?â€ he laments.
The MP is irked with the poor state of community schools in the constituency. He wants to ensure all community schools are upgraded to acceptable standards. â€œOur party manifesto states that by 2021, all community schools should be upgraded hence I will see to it that the plan is realised. I will vigorously lobby the Ministry of General education,â€ he says.
Mr Chiyalika will work to ensure people in the constituency have access to electricity and the mobile telecommunication network.
Currently, the constituency is not connected to the national grid and telecommunication services are poor.
He will engage the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) on the possibility of connecting the constituency in the shortest possible time.
â€œI will work hard to ensure the standards in Ngabwe are that of a modern town. I had a discussion with Zamtel, which is currently the only service provider. I requested them to consider erecting towers that are taller than the current ones. I also intend to talk to Airtel and MTN to consider investing in the area,â€ Mr Chiyalika says.
Early marriages involving underage girls is another challenge the MP intends to address. He appeals to Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to assist in curbing the vice.
All roads in Lufubu are gravel and are generally in bad state. The main road to the area is the Mukobeko-Chipepo-Mukubwe-Ngabwe road. Despite this road being captured in the Link Zambia 8000 road project, it is yet to be constructed.
It is the MPâ€™s desire to see all roads in the constituency brought to an acceptable standard.
Mr Chiyalika also wants a bridge to be constructed across the Kafue River.
â€œOn this one, President Lungu actually promised to ensure it is done.
â€œIt is also in my plan to open up ring roads. It is also my vision that we set up a small bridge at Lwamala River and another as we head towards Chirwa Island,â€ he says.
The lawmaker also wants to see to it that a district hospital is constructed in the area.
â€œI want my office to be located in Ngabwe. I want to live with my people so that we can ably interact,â€ he says.
He will interact with the two traditional leaders in the area namely Chief Ngabwe and Chief Mukubwe on how best to implement projects.
â€œI do not want to impose projects. I will consult the traditional leadership because they know best the needs of people,â€ he says.
Iâ€™m equal to the task because my mandate comes from the people in Lufubu Constituency. Iâ€™m looking forward to being in Parliament as I want to adequately represent them.
â€œI was sent to Parliament by the people of Ngabwe hence I will ensure I ably represent them. Iâ€™m not intimidated by the veteran parliamentarians because we all have different missions we carry to Manda Hill from our masters, the electorate,â€ he says.
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