MATHEWS KABAMBA, Kitwe
ENTERPRISING, determined, disciplined and dedicated are, but some of the few words to describe, Rashida Mulenga, the newly-elected mayor for Kalulushi district on the Copperbelt Province.
Ms Mulenga is the first elected executive mayor of Kalulushi under the amended constitution, which subjects the position to a popular vote by citizens.
Ms Mulenga polled 17,559 votes against her closest rival Daudi Simama of the United Party for National Development (UPND), who polled 8,556 votes.
In her race to the mayoral position, she also faced competition from Judith Mumba of the United Democratic Front (UDF), Rainbow Partyâ€™s Allan Simutenda and Independent candidate Anthony Mwila.
She is now geared to deliver her campaign promises by reciprocating the confidence the people of Kalulushi have vested in her through delivering the much-needed development.
â€œThere is no easy election because as candidates, we were competing for votes from an informed electorate. The people of Kalulushi where looking out for a candidate whose campaigns were issue-based,â€ Ms Mulenga said.
Following the Constitutional amendments, the position of mayor is no longer by any means a ceremonial one, and requires occupants to possess the required administrative skills to effectively deliver to expectations.
Ms Mulenga says she is equal to the task and has pledged to spearhead the land audit exercise in the district to determine how much land is left for investment purposes.
She says she will work with the area member of Parliament (MP) Kampamba Mulenga and councillors to attract new investment in the district in various sectors of the economy.
â€œWe need to identify how much land we have in our district so that we can plan on what type of investments we should take to the district. We are looking at developing a strategic plan that will guide our development agenda for the next five years,â€ Ms Mulenga said.
She wants youths and women in the area to develop a spirit of entrepreneurship if the district is to develop.
â€œInnovation among our people will be the key to realise our development goals. So,as the leadership, we will look to determine what kind of skills our people have and provide the necessary environment for them to contribute their skills to development of Kalulushi,â€ Ms Mulenga said.
Ms Mulenga said, coming from a business background, she will promote a spirit of entrepreneurship to lessen peopleâ€™s dependence on Government.
Ms Mulenga is clear about what type of Kalulushi she hopes to leave at the end of her tenure.
Her vision for the district is simple, it is not one littered with political rhetoric and empty promises of â€œheaven on earthâ€.
Ms Mulenga, who described her leadership style as one that teaches people how to fish rather than giving them fish, wants to inculcate a spirit of entrepreneurship in Kalulushi residents.
â€œIf we are to bring development to our district, there are no two ways about it, we need a productive people. We have a lot of skilled people in the district that can contribute their skill to the development of Kalulushi.
â€œHere on the Copperbelt, we are one of the unique towns in that we are not a mining town per se, so, there is need for people of the area to be enterprising in other areas if we are to develop to our full potential,â€ she said.
She visualises a modern Kalulushi and anchored on full participation of everyone in the district.
â€œWe need to zone Kalulushi, what areas are for investment, industry, residential recreation among others. In view of these plans, a land audit is on the cards to identify how much undeveloped land is left in our area,â€ Ms Mulenga said.
She launched her political career in 2011 when she officially joined the Patriotic Front (PF) in Kalulushi as an ordinary member.
Ms Mulenga has not always fancied herself as a politician ,but was inspired by the late President Michael Sataâ€™s man-of-action leadership style.
It was, however, her close friend and newly-elected Kalulushi parliamentarian Kampamba Mulenga, who encouraged her to join the party.
In 2013, she was appointed chairlady for Luapula ward before being voted constituency chairlady two years later, the position she currently holds.
Her desire to offer a service to the people of Kalulushi prompted her to bid for adoption for the mayoral position on the ruling party ticket prior to the August 11 general elections.
She describes her election as a victory for people, nothing of her making, but the will of God through the people that overwhelmingly voted for her.
Born on January 2, 1983 to Charity Mwamba, Ms Mulenga grew up with her late stepfather Francis Stanley Mulenga, who once served as a Brigadier General in the Zambia National Service (ZNS).
First in the family of two females, Ms Mulenga attributes the person she is today, to the love and care she enjoyed in Brig Gen Mulengaâ€™s home.
She attended primary school at Lusakaâ€™s Rhodes Park School in 1989 before going to Kabulonga Girls Secondary School where she did part of her junior secondary school.
She later moved to Kitweâ€™s Helen Kaunda Secondary School where she obtained her Grade 12 certificate in 2001.
Ms Mulenga is a holder of a certificate in Graphic Designing from University of Zambia (UNZA).
She is currently pursuing Business Administration degree programme with South Africaâ€™s Mancosa University.
Outside politics, Ms Mulenga is a businesswoman, who runs a printing and embroidery company in Kitweâ€™s Riverside area, a trade, she has been running for the past nine years.
Among her major works include the â€˜Safe Miningâ€™ banners and signage used by mining giants Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) in their safe mining campaign.
Married to Godfrey Kangwa Chipasha, Ms Mulenga, is a mother of seven namely Ezekiel Godfrey, Katongo, Bwalya, Mutale, Kangwa and Joshua Chipasha.
She narrates that she is grateful to God for having given her a husband and a family that is supportive of her political career.
â€œAs a woman in politics, it is not always easy, but if you have a strong family beside you, things are a lot better. I must say my husband has been there all the way and I am grateful,â€ Ms Mulenga said.
With the youthful mayor at the top of the municipality, the people of Kalulushi are assured of fresh ideas as Ms Mulenga begins her five-year reign, and has pledged to serve the people of Kalulushi to the best of her God-given ability.
MATHEWS KABAMBA, Kitwe