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Lukulu district in battle of 4

LUKULU district is called the land of plenty.
Everything being equal, Lukulu, one of the country’s oldest districts, should have been the land of milk and honey given the available natural resources there.
The proximity of the district to the ‘mighty’ Zambezi River should have been an incentive for tourism activities while manufacturing industries should have been borne out of the mango fruit harvested there. The district also boasts of quality timber and ‘Mongu’ rice.
Lukulu, located in the northern part of Western Province, shares boundaries with Kaoma in the west and the newly-created Limulunga and Mitete districts to the south as well as Mumbezhi district in North-Western Province to the east.
It should have been a busy transit district between Western and North-Western provinces.
It should have been at the heart of traffic for goods and passengers from North-Western Province to Walvis Bay in Namibia via Sesheke and Durban through the Kazungula border post.
The largely sandy, loamy and clay in some parts of the district are ideal for agriculture, block-making and pottery.
However, lack of a proper network means that accessibility to Lukulu and through the district is largely hampered.
The Katunda-Watompa road, which connects Lukulu to the Lusaka-Mongu highway and is the gateway to Mumbezhi district in North-Western Province, has never been tarred since 1964, so haven’t the rest of the roads in Lukulu, making the district unattractive to investors and visitors.
Lukulu is also yet to be connected to the national electricity grid and has been using diesel-propelled power for over 50 years.
This means Zesco has to ration power from midnight up to 05:00 hours every day and this has hampered the growth of commerce in Lukulu.
Despite the gloom in this constituency, which was Lukulu East, for over four decades until late President Michael Sata split the vast district into two, turning Lukulu West into Mitete district, the desire for quality representation is there.
Four candidates, including immediate past member of Parliament (MP) Christopher Kalila, have stepped forward to be assessed by the 33,192 registered voters.
Dr Kalila, who was elected on the MMD banner in 2011, is seeking re-election on the ticket of opposition United Party for National Development (UPND).
Others are Kandala Matakala, an educationist hoisting the flag for the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), Fabian Mayondi of Rainbow Party and Kambala Kalwena representing the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD).
The 57-year-old Mr Matakala believes in team work and has pledged to work with all religious leaders in the constituency, including the royal establishment and other traditional leaders in fostering development.
He also intends to work closely with public service workers such as teachers, health personnel, agricultural officers, local authority workers, the business community, youths, women and men as well as other political parties to take development to Lukulu.
Mr Matakala, who was a teacher for 31 years and retired as Mongu Catholic College of Education principal, says youths and women in the constituency should have access to empowerment funds to make them productive.
He intends to facilitate the formation of co-operatives where women will be acquiring skills such as gardening and tailoring.
Mr Matakala’s campaign has been bolstered by the popular ‘Dununa Reverse’ song, which is a hit in the district, so is the ‘Sontapo’ slogan and the outbreak of campaign materials.
He has facilitated 36 projects in all the 13 wards of the constituency using the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). The projects range from the construction of Lukulu FM Radio station, classroom blocks, rural health centres, staff houses, Chief Mayankwa’s palace to building of community schools and VIP toilets.
Dr Kalila says he has used his personal resources to donate over 1,000 iron sheets to markets, schools and health posts. He adds that the construction of three bridges at Ana’anga and rehabilitation of Mulongo bridge were also financed from his pocket.
His affinity for helping Lukulu dates back to his time as deputy minister of Health and deputy minister of Works and Supply when he donated medical equipment, mattresses and blankets to the district hospital and rural health centres.
Dr Kalila also facilitated the construction of boreholes at Shiyengo and Katoya.
Although these works speak for his legacy despite not having received CDF for 2015 and 2016, Dr Kalila, 50, has not sat on his laurels and has been campaigning vigorously to defend his record and renew his covenant with the vast constituency.
The 29-year-old says it is shameful that 52 years after independence, Lukulu is still grappling with basics such as poor water supply despite being 10 metres away from the Zambezi River.
He says the soils are rich for growing maize, soya beans and vegetables, yet the district is buying cabbages from Lusaka.
Mr Kalwena accuses previous MPs of not having represented the constituency adequately, hence the poor road network and school infrastructure.
He says it is unacceptable that a big constituency like Lukulu, which has several outlying health posts, could just have one ambulance.
Mr Kalwena, a marketing practitioner, has pledged to push for construction of roads as well as investors to harness the timber and agriculture.
He was a staunch UPND member but resigned when Dr Kalila was selected ahead of him and others during the adoption process.
With the Rainbow Party not having a candidate in Lukulu, the former assistant Senior State Advocate at the Attorney General’s Chambers, Ministry of Justice, decided to accept the endorsement.
Mr Mayondi says Lukulu’s lack of development points to a poor road network.
“This road from Katunda to Watopa is a death trap, it has been years since it was graded. This is one of the few places in Zambia that do not have a tarred road. Even under the ambitious Link Zambia 8000 road construction project, Lukulu has been left out,” he says.
Mr Mayondi says where there are good roads, development follows.
He says the poor feeder roads are not helping matters either, as they fail to service the agriculture sector.
“Even in the social sector, there is so much under-development. This is one place where grades 5, 8 and 9 are still learning under a tree,” he says.
He bemoans the lack of boreholes and clinics in several wards.
Mr Mayondi says Lukulu has the privilege of having the Zambezi River, the country’s biggest river, which should spawn tourism-related activities and create employment.
Lukulu has 15 wards and 64 polling stations.
Mukwenje Chikolo (1964) UNIP, Green Mwaala UNIP (1966-1968), Sylvester Katota UNIP (1968-1978), Alexis Mwananombe UNIP (1978-1988), Alexis Luhila UNIP (1988-1991), Alfred Lienda MMD (1991-1996), Alexis Luhila Independent (1996-2001), Batuke Imenda UPND (2001-2003), Alexis Luhila MMD (2003-2006), Batuke Imenda United Liberal Party (2006-2011), and Christopher Kalila MMD (2011-2016).