CONSTITUENCY WATCH with CHRISTINE CHISHA, Petauke
MSANZALA constituency is one of the three constituencies in Petauke district, Eastern Province.
It shares its boundaries with Petauke Central and Kapoche constituencies.
The constituency is the biggest in the district and straddles two Nsenga chiefdoms of Nyamphande and Sandwe.
It has 29,420 registered voters according to the 2011 voters register.
To a first time visitor, Msanzala has little to offer, but a closer look reveals that the area has numerous opportunities, which can change its appearance of poverty and underdevelopment.
The main economic activity in the constituency is subsistence crop production and livestock rearing.
However, hunger is looming in the constituency due to poor rainfall experienced in the 2014-15 farming season, which has also led to some boreholes drying up.
â€œThe government should send relief food to the district on time. The dry spell we experienced in the last farming season led to poor harvest, which has eventually resulted into hunger in the district,â€ says Elisani Phiri, a small-scale farmer in the area.
Earlier this year, Msanzala member of Parliament (MP) Joseph Lungu, who belongs to the ruling Patriotic Front, predicted that his constituency would experience hunger due to poor rainfall last season.
Colonel Lungu says the people of Msanzala will require relief maize to cushion the hunger situation.
However, he is happy that the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) has moved in to start the distribution of relief food.
â€œI thank Government for distributing inputs and seed on time. We have already started receiving inputs and seeds. We are collecting the inputs from Petauke town,â€ Mr Phiri says.
He says with the upgrading of roads by the Zambia National Service (ZNS), it has become easier to move fertiliser from the town centre to the villages.
Another resident, Mrs Linda Banda, is happy about the opening up of the roads in the constituency. She says this will ease the movement of goods and people.
She says â€œFor a long time, Msanzala was inaccessible, vehicles could not reach far-flung areas but after ZNS graded the roads, the constituency is now accessible.â€
Mrs Banda is grateful to the government for taking keen interest in ensuring that accessibility to rural Zambia is enhanced. â€œThis is our chance as people of Msanzala to participate and contribute to the economic development agenda of the country because our roads have been opened up.â€
Constituency development fund (CDF) chairperson Maxwell Mwanza says ZNS has rehabilitated roads in Msanzala constituency.
He says ZNS has proved to be a dependable vehicle in opening up the rural areas of the country.
Mr Mwanza says the roads in Msanzala constituency have been well done and all that was needed was continuous maintenance.
He says the constituency has seen a lot of development funded by Government, apart from the construction and rehabilitation of roads.
Some of the projects, in the education sector, are being spearheaded by the area MP using his own resources.
Mr Mwanza said Government is also doing a good job to help farmers through the Fertiliser Input Support Programme (FISP) and the rehabilitation of roads.
For CDF, 12 projects were approved from the 2014 funds, while the 2015 funds are yet to be received.
Mr Mwanza named the CDF projects approved for 2014 in the eight wards of the constituency as the construction of the market shelter at Wankhala satellite, drilling of boreholes at Village 21 and construction of a bridge at Chizalila on Kasonjola Road.
In the education sector, a one-by-three classroom block has been constructed at Lumbuka, Mileka and Nsenya community schools.
Staff houses have also been constructed at Mkonda and Ndambwe primary schools in Mateyo and Singozi wards.
In the health sector, two staff houses have been constructed at Matonga Health Post, mothersâ€™ shelters have also been constructed at Chawizi and Nyamphondolo rural health centres.
Mr Mwanza says rehabilitation and electrification of new Mzumwa Primary School in Ukwimi ward is underway.
He says two ambulances have also been bought and are stationed in villages to ferry patients to nearest health posts or Petauke District Hospital.
And Col Lungu says his vision is to leave Msanzala Constituency developed and a lasting legacy.
He says the constituency had lagged behind in terms of development for many years, a situation he says sometimes forces him to use his own money to complete some projects.
The MP is currently constructing two primary schools in Chief Nyamphande and Chief Sandweâ€™s chiefdoms, using his personal resources.
â€œI cannot entirely depend on government funds to develop the constituency. As a man who believes in seeing projects implemented and also a man passionate about the education of the young people who are the future of this country, I am using personal resources to build the two schools,â€ he says.
He says he will use the 2015 CDF to buy a grader, which will help in the maintenance of the roads rehabilitated and constructed by ZNS.
Col Lungu says the Ministry of Gender has donated a tractor in his constituency to help co-operatives plough their fields.
And Brown Banda, one of the teachers at the school being constructed, says she is happy with the MPâ€™s move because children will now have a decent place to learn from.
Mr Banda says â€œThe school has 110 children who used to learn under trees and during the rainy season, they never used to learn. Our prayer is that all building materials will be delivered on time so that the classes are completed by the end of December in readiness for 2016.â€
And Chief Nyamphande has commended the government for the many developmental projects they have embarked on in the village, from roads, to building of schools, health posts and electrifying the area.
He says apart from developmental projects, programmes such as the HeForShe campaign launched in the area in July by President Lungu, has brought dignity to the chiefdom and the constituency at large. The HeForShe is a solidarity movement for Gender Equality.
The traditional leader says the launch of the one-stop Gender-Based Violence centre has also helped to curb cases of early marriage and GBV.
However, Chief Nyamphande says more sensitisation programmes are needed in the area for people to refrain from engaging themselves in the vice.
CONSTITUENCY WATCH with CHRISTINE CHISHA, Petauke