Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO
PRIOR to its declaration as the headquarters of the Southern Province, Choma was known for two things: the town where the one-party state policy was birthed, and the hub of Zambia’s principal agricultural region.
The Choma Declaration was signed in 1972 when the opposition leader, Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, assented to voluntarily dissolve his political party, the African National Congress (ANC).
The dissolution of the ANC allowed the United National Independence Party (UNIP) to be the sole political organisation in the country.
In addition, Choma is centrally located in the farming belt of Southern Province.
Late President Michael Sata found it ideal to turn the town into the provincial headquarters because there is sufficient land space where a long-haul airport can be constructed.
He was therefore convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that moving the headquarters from Livingstone to Choma would ease administration of the province.
Seven years down the line, Mr Sata’s vision for Choma is blossoming and it is just a matter of time before it attains city status.
That Choma will next year start hosting teams from across Africa for the Confederation Cup fixtures is now one of the justifications why the local authority should roll up its sleeves in facilitating the upgrading of critical infrastructure.
Green Eagles last Saturday completed its fairy tale by qualifying for the Confederation Cup next season.
Eagles did this by beating Zesco United 1-0 at Independence Stadium to stay clear of Zanaco, who were beaten 1-0 by Nkwazi at Lusaka’s Edwin Imboela Stadium.
Eagles, who finished the season on 71 points, four above Zanaco, have made history by becoming the first club in Southern Province to play continental football.
The Zambia National Service (ZNS)-sponsored outfit has been one of the change agents of Choma.
With Eagles due to start bringing in teams from other African countries, there is need to invest in infrastructure.
ZNS, on its part, should work with the business community starting this week to upgrade Independence Stadium.
I am aware that upgrading the stadium is on-going as Eagles sought to meet the club licensing requirements.
Now that the team will be hosting international visitors (clubs, referees, match officials etc), Independence Stadium must as a matter of urgency meet CAF standards.
I know Choma has a couple of lodges that would satisfy travelling clubs, referees and match officials, but more needs to be done to ensure that hospitality standards are raised.
Lodge owners, too, should train and re-train their staff in readiness for CAF inspections.
Well done Eagles, the soul of the Southern Province.
The author is editorials editor at the Zambia Daily Mail.
Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO