JACK ZIMBA, Lundazi
AFTER losing the Lundazi Central Constituency election for MP in 2011, Evans Kazonga could easily have given up on his quest to help improve the lives of the people of Lundazi, but the 45-year-old businessman often finds himself making the 700km trip to the land of his birth to help local communities.
In 2011, Mr Kazonga was the candidate for the Patriotic Front (PF), but lost to Mkondo Lungu of the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD).
He describes the experience of losing an election as â€œdevastatingâ€.
But what motivates him to help poor communities?
â€œThe vulnerability of the people there is what pushes me to do the work that Iâ€™m doing,â€ says Mr Kazonga, who started his charity mission to communities in Lundazi, Eastern Province, in 2009.
Since then, Mr Kazonga has touched many lives in the villages of Lundazi.
There are many challenges facing the communities in Lundazi, but chief among them is lack of access to clean drinking water â€“ a problem made worse by the poor rainfall experienced in many parts of the country last season. There are far too few boreholes between households, forcing villagers to walk long distances to fetch the commodity.
Mr Kazonga recently helped two communities to repair broken boreholes, much to the delight of the villagers, who still call him by the parliamentary title â€œhonourableâ€.
He seems to have struck the right code with the grassroots, and is received warmly as he visits from village to village. To many of the lives he touches, Mr Kazonga is the MP they never had.
Some churches have also benefitted from his charity work.
Mr Kazonga, who has business interests in Lundazi, considers his charity work as community social responsibility.
â€œI get a lot of pleasure in giving and I always wish I could give more,â€ says Mr Kazonga.
And although he has eked out a somewhat comfortable life for himself in the city, Mr Kazonga is still at home in the village, switching from executive suits to casual wear.
He also relates easily with the locals, making sure to visit grieving families.
Azwell Banda, group headman for Kamutanda village in Chief Mwaseâ€™s area says Mr Kazonga has proved that he is interested in the welfare of the people and not just political power.
Although he is Ngoni, he is very fluent in Tumbuka, which is widely spoken in Lundazi.
Mr Kazonga was born in Holoholo village in Chief Kapichila, Lundazi.
His father, Zude Ngoma, was a humble gardener who married four wives and fathered many children. His mother, Tionelepo Mwale, was the second wife in his fatherâ€™s harem and Mr Kazonga is the last-born of eight children in his motherâ€™s household.
He describes his childhood as â€œdifficultâ€, as there was little to go around the many children. He can hardly remember how many children there were in the family.
The young Evans attended his first school near his village and despite the poverty he was born into, his father managed to send him to school.
He recalls how his father would gather several chickens from the family chicken pens to go and sell at the local market, and then return with a number of school uniforms for the children.
And he still recalls receiving a beating from his father for refusing to go to school. He thinks the beating paid-off.
In 1986, he was selected to attend the prestigious Chizongwe Secondary School in Chipata. After completing his secondary school education in 1990, Mr Kazonga undertook a course in electrical at Lukashya Trades in Kasama, Northern Province.
In 1996, he was employed by Afe Limited, where he specialised in installation of boreholes and water pumps.
But after working for two years, he quit and joined Angoni Forwarding and Clearing Agency, a company formed by his brother, Edgar Ngoma.
He still works for the company, besides running his own businesses.
He later studied clearing and forwarding at the Zambia Institute of Management, where he obtained a diploma. Currently, Mr Kazonga is studying chartered institute of logistics and transport.
â€œMy passion is to become a career man in the supply chain management. I enjoy trucking and movement of goods. I enjoy monitoring the movement of goods from one point to the other,â€ he says.
Mr Kazongaâ€™s passion for politics was born in 2009, spurred by what he terms â€œpoor economic managementâ€ by the MMD, which was governing the country then.
â€œFrom the time the MMD took office in 1991, they drove the economy quite well with the introduction of many incentives, especially in the transport sector where my interest is, but towards the end, things became very bad. That is when I thought I must participate in removing them from power,â€ he says.
Mr Kazonga was also inspired by Mpongwe MP Gabriel Namulambe, whom he describes as â€œa firm and bold politicianâ€.
â€œWhen I saw him, I said to myself â€˜I want to be like him one dayâ€™,â€ he says.
Mr Kazonga joined the PF and started helping in party organisation in Lundazi district.
He says the party did not have many resources then and so often times he found himself using his own resources to mobilise the party.
Usually, he would have party material such as T-shirts printed in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and brought into the country through Malawi. His efforts to organise the party in the district was noticed by local party officials who supported his bid to stand for MP.
In 2011, he was adopted as the PF parliamentary candidate against the sitting MP Mkondo Lungu of the MMD, whom he describes as â€œa seasoned politicianâ€.
After a gruelling 32-day campaign in 2011, Mr Kazonga was confident of winning the election.
â€œI was really confident that I would carry the day despite facing a candidate who is seasoned,â€ he says.
But when the results started coming in, he soon realised he was not going to win.
Too devastated to bear the loss, he went to sleep.
Would he stand again after losing?
â€œGiven the opportunity, I will not hesitate,â€ says Mr Kazonga, adding that what drives him in life is facing new challenges.
When he is not giving to the poor, Mr Kazonga usually takes time to sensitise communities about the importance of obtaining national registration cards and registering as voters.
Mr Kazonga is married to Jean Chikwekwe, and the couple has four children, Nandipa, Tionge, Chatowa and Zwelithine, the only boy in the family.
Although he was born in a polygamous home, he says he wouldnâ€™t marry more than one wife.
â€œI donâ€™t want to be greedy,â€ he says.