CHRISTINE CHISHA, Lusaka
IN 2011, Mafinga was declared a district by former President Michael Sata. It was previously known as Isoka East.
Mafinga, which derives its name from the Mafinga Hills, lies over an area of about 4,134 square kilometres and its outlook is steadily changing for the better.
The hilly district is sparsely populated with people settled in areas where land is fertile. And that is where trading activities take place.
Its area Member of Parliament (MP) Jacob Siwale says his constituency, which was initially part of Isoka in Muchinga Province, requires some attention to make more developed.
“I was prompted to go into politics so that I could effectively contribute to the development of Mafinga constituency. I had to leave my job at the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) to work for the people of Mafinga especially that I was born and educated in the area,” he said.
Mr Siwale said before being declared a district, Mafinga lacked basic infrastructure such as schools and health centres. Its residents had challenges accessing Isoka and Chama districts because of the bad road network.
The district is not yet connected to the national power grid, leaving residents without any power supply.
Like any other rural constituency, Mafinga lacks decent residential accommodation, banks, filling stations, a well-established trading centre and hospitality industry.
However, the constituency has been getting a fair share of the national economic development cake since 2016.
Government has started the construction of two district hospitals in the constituency which are expected to be commissioned in November this year.
“Even before the hospitals are open to the public, 33 health workers have already been sent to the area and are working in heath posts awaiting the opening of the two hospitals,” Mr Silwale said.
Seven health posts will also be constructed in all the 11 wards in the constituency.
In agriculture, Mr Siwale said the distribution of inputs is still going on and farmers are happy with the introduction of the electronic voucher system because it has helped them access farm inputs.
The MP recently launched the installation of Presidential hammermills in the constituency.
He said the solar milling plants which are being installed within 10 kilometres of the district will stop members of the community from travelling long distances to have their maize milled. Previously Mafinga only had three hammermills.
In the education sector, since 2016, four secondary schools have been constructed, shortening distances covered by learners.
The MP is also happy that a female dormitory at Mulekatembo Secondary School in Mafinga constituency whose roof was blown off by a heavy storm alongside a market and houses in March last year has successfully been renovated and handed over to the school authorities.
Apart from the renovation of the school, Mr Siwale has also spearheaded the rehabilitation of 10 boreholes which went above their lifespan of 4 years, threatening access to clean and safe drinking water in Ntendere, Musipizi, Ngwiya and Chanama wards.
He said hand pump boreholes have a lifespan of four years and it is strongly recommended to do periodic preventive maintenance and inspection, especially on all components which feature a constant wear and tear.
Mr Siwale said the rehabilitation of the water pumps in the area will guarantee access to safe and clean drinking water.
And the MP is happy that a number of lives in the constituency are slowly changing after benefitting from the social cash transfer being distributed by the Ministry of Community and Social development.
“We have seen 3,000 beneficiaries under the social cash transfer with most parents and guardians taking the children back to school. And over 750 women have received women empowerment through the village banking, they have been trained in income generating projects and have been able to access funds,” Mr Siwale said.
The MP said he was also happy that youths have not been left out in the empowerment programme. He said the United Nations Development Programme is next month expected to launch a programme for skills development for youths.
He said 10 youths from the wards will be enrolled at the youth skills training centre for a start.
While Mr Siwale has scored in some sectors, his biggest worry is the Isoka-Mafinga road which is not accessible during the rainy season. “The road should be tarred to ease people’s movements,” he said.
He also said lack of electricity has delayed development in the constituency though he has been assured by the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) that the constituency will be lightened up this year because 60 percent of the works have been done.
“The lighting up of Mafinga constituency will not only be a joy to the people in the area but will be one of my major achievement on the priorities I have for Muchinga,” he said.
Mr Siwale describes himself as a servant of the people and is confident that with dedication to duty, he will transform Mafinga into a great and better constituency.
He said within one and half year in Parliament, development projects in the health, education and other sectors is being witnessed.
In Parliament, Mr Siwale sits on the budget committee and committee on delegated legislation.