MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka
INFORMATION is power and a well-informed society is a catalyst for socio-economic development, but this is not the case for Gwembe district in the Southern Province.
With a population of 53, 117 people according to the 2016 census, access to information in most parts of the district is still a challenge.
In addition, it is difficult to access telephone network in most parts of the district.
People in Gwembe have to look for a cellphone network in the bush or climb a hill to find accessibility.
It is this lack of connectivity that compelled United Party for National Development (UPND) Member of Parliament Attracta Chisangano to join politics with the view of bringing change to the people of Gwembe constituency.
“It is sad that even after 53 years of independence, our people do not have proper network. It is extremely difficult for people to communicate with their relatives”, she said.
Here, accessibility is only available in Gwembe town, Munyumbwe, Chipepo and Shampande.
The constituency is devoid of television satellite towers. Residents only depend on Chikuni radio which also can only be accessed in some parts of the district.
Ms Chisangano does not attribute Gwembe district’s underdevelopment to her predecessors but she is determined to bring new hope to the people.
She believes that a Member of Parliament must not been seen as an answer to problems in the constituents, but as an advocate for the people.
Born on January 29, 1968, at Chikuni Mission Hospital in the Southern Province, Ms Chisangano is the second born in a family of nine.
She attended various primary schools in Southern and Western provinces due to transfers of her father who was a lecturer at Charles Lwanga and Mongu teacher training colleges.
When she completed secondary education at Ibenga Girls’ Secondary School on the copperbelt, Ms Chisangano later proceeded to Natural Resources Development College (NRDC) to pursue a diploma in nutrition.
She worked for various non-governmental organisations both local and international, mostly on community health-related projects until 2016 when she decided to go into politics.
“During my work with various communities, I felt like I needed to work for my people and offer a service.
She intends to engage the constituents and work together with them to improve livelihoods.
Among the areas which need improvement are communication, improved road network, water reticulation, health service delivery, education, security and agriculture.
Most of the schools in Gwembe district are dilapidated and old and learners fail to concentrate because the school environment is not conducive.
The school infrastructure needs rehabilitation.
The schools that are in a deplorable state are Koma, Chamwe, Nyangwe, Kole, Henga, Bunyete and Kalama.
She said accommodation for teachers is also a challenge with some teachers commuting from Monze where they live. Other teachers live in classrooms.
She said there is need for Government to consider employing teachers that are within Gwembe district to address the issue of shortage of teachers.
She noted that lack of electricity in some parts of the district is affecting the learning of Information and Communication Technology, (ICT) subject.
Security remains a challenge, with increased cases of killings on allegations of practising witchcraft especially in Chief Chipepo’s area.
People have taken advantage of lack of a police station in the area to commit crime, hence making most of the people live in fear.
“More than five people have been killed this year alone on allegations of practising witchcraft, Gwembe only has a small police post which cannot cater for the security concerns of the people,” Ms Chisangano explained.
She hopes to change the situation where people walk more than 20 kilometres to access medical services.
Ms Chisangano said she will use her position to lobby Government to construct the 10 health posts that were promised to the people of Gwembe.
She said people usually face challenges to access health facilities as a result of a poor road network in the area.
“Most our mothers usually give birth at home because the distances to hospital is long, of course we have a district hospital but the constituency is very vast hence the need to construct more health facilities,” Ms Chisangano lamented.
She said shortages of drugs in most health facilities in Gwembe constituency affect effective health care delivery.
Ms Chisangano also said the lack of electricity in some health facilities usually makes it difficult for medical equipment to be sterilised and stored.
Like many other areas, most of the roads in Gwembe are usually impassable during the rainy season, there-by restricting the movement of people.
This in most cases makes it difficult for schoolchildren to cross over to other areas to attend school.
Ms Chisangano said most of the roads in the area have not been tarred since independence and this makes it challenging for farmers to take their produce to the market.
“The Chisekese-Chipepo road, Bottom Roads and the entire road network of Gwembe district must be worked on if the area is to be developed. An improved road network is a vehicle for economic development.
“Travelling during the rainy season becomes impossible, most of the bridges are low and easily get submerged. There is need to raise the bridges so that our people can easily pass and move from one area to another,” she said.
Ms Chisangano said there is need to construct dip tanks and dams in the area, as most dams dry up during the hot season leaving livestock with no water.
Access to finance on the other hand is another thorny issue especially among the farmers because there is no bank to service the area.
She said that farmers usually spend more money on transport and accommodation to go to the bank.
She hopes to use the Community Development Fund (CDF) in priority areas which to enhance development.
Ms Chisangano hopes to see a transformed Gwembe constituency as she comes to the end of her five year term.
“I have passion for the people of Gwembe and I would like to see a transformed constituency where people are economically empowered.
MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka