CHRISTINE CHISHA, Lusaka
MARTIN Malama, the newly-elected Kanchibiya member of Parliament (MP) is a courageous and jovial man, whose smile never leaves his face as he speaks.
Dr Malama, a former Inspector General of Police, is among outstanding police officers who during the time he saved as Copperbelt commissioner managed to â€˜dealâ€™ with the notorious gang popularly known as Jerabos.
While he is known to many as a once top cop, to others, he is a calm medical doctor, a brother in the Lord, who describes himself as a man whose purpose in life is driven by the Lord Jesus Christ, to be of service to mankind and spread love.
Dr Malama, who developed an interest in politics after seeing the injustice, corruption and disservice some Zambians were subjected to at the hands of politicians, wants to make a difference in the lives of people of Kanchibiya.
Kanchibiya Constituency, which is one of the largest constituencies in the country, is situated in Mpika district of Muchinga Province.
Despite being one of the largest constituencies in the country, it lacks basic facilities such as a hospital, post office, banks, police station and university. And it was only when the Patriotic Front (PF) formed government in 2011, that a secondary school was built in the area.
The former Inspector General of Police has since laid down a developmental and empowerment plan for all the 10 wards in the constituency.
â€œMy short term plan consists of provision of health and education for the young people, agriculture production for the middle age and the adult, social cash transfer for the elderly, and skill development among men and women,â€ he said.
â€œMy long term plan is to ensure that Kanchibiya Constituency is no longer a burden to the economy of the nation but contribute to the countryâ€™s gross domestic product (GDP), through its potential in tourism.â€
Operational and well stocked health centres and hospital are some of the priorities that Dr Malama wants Government to work on.
From the 650 health centres Government is constructing across the country, Kanchibiya has been allocated three, namely; Mwelushi in Chundaponde chiefdom, Mulonga in Luchembe chiefdom and Munkunta in Kabinga area.
Dr Malama observes the need for more health centres to be built in the area to shorten the distances covered by residents to access health care.
He laments that some ailments that cannot be diagnosed in the rural centres end up being classified as witchcraft by residents.
The people of Kanchibiya are predominantly peasant farmers. However, the absence of bridges in strategic areas has made it difficult for farmers to transport their produce to the market.
Dr Malama appeals to Government to consider constructing bridges in areas such as Chibwa, Macheleta, Chikakala and Mukunta.
He says the four villages become impassible during the rainy season, adding that crossing points are usually death traps, especially for school-going children.
Dr Malama, however, is happy with the presence of agriculture extension officers in the areas proximal to farmers as it would improve the yield as farmers have access to improved farming methods.
The other challenge farmers in the constituency face are the delayed payment for the produce they sell to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA). Transporters face the same predicament.
Dr Malama says for agriculture production to flourish in the constituency, there is need for Government to urgently address some of the challenges farmers face.
Dr Malama laments the small number of women in public office in comparison with the population ratios. He says there is need for a deliberate move to encourage more deserving women to participate in elective office positions.
â€œThe majority of Zambians are women and youths, hence, we look forward to a greater representation of women and youth issues in the National Assembly,â€ he hopes.
Dr Malama, however, says the election of Vice-President Inonge Wina, gives confidence to his daughters, Yande and Mebeelo, that Zambian girls can grow knowing that despite their gender, they can aspire for higher offices as long as they work hard.
Women, elderly and youth empowerment will be a priority on Dr Malamaâ€™s programme.
He laments the social cash transfer programme is yet to be implemented in the area, a situation which is of great concern among the constituents.
Other challenges include lack of sponsorship for women clubs, lack of support for youth sporting clubs, particularly football for both men and women, and lack of skills development centres for youths.
Dr Malama is working round the clock to raise funds and assist women and youths with skill development. Income generating clubs for women to enable them raise sustainable funds will be ideal.
He says sports recreation facilities for the youths are another item on his agenda.
â€œI usually see women with babies on their back playing football and the playing fields are far away from their homes.
â€œIn future, I will not be surprised if Kanchibiya produces women to be part of the women national team because there is great potential,â€ he says.
Dr Malama says Kanchibiya has the potential to become an employment hub if the tourism sector is fully harnessed. The constituency is host to the Miombo and Bangweulu swamps.
The Bangweulu wetlands are known for the endemic black lechwe, the tsessebe, reedbuck, sitatunga, elephants, buffaloes and hippos. It is also a breeding ground for shoebill.
Dr Malama has implored the first â€˜entrantsâ€™ to Parliament to take a leaf from the veteran MPs in setting priorities for future generations. â€œThe right path is that of unity, peace and economic development because this is what our freedom fighters fought for,â€ he said.
He says elections are over, hence, there is need for Zambians to focus on economic development. â€œFocusing on settling scores is detrimental and not a priority of the people.â€
The former Inspector General of police says uncompromised integrity in the public service will foster economic development and assist in unifying the nation. â€œLet us constantly be reminded that we are a Christian nation, therefore, the fear of God is a source of wisdom and should be with us.â€
Dr Malama, born from Margaret and Fwampson Malama of Mpika, is married to Njekwa and has been blessed with three children.
CHRISTINE CHISHA, Lusaka