ELIZABETH CHATUVELA, Shangombo
FEW people knew about the existence of Shangombo, one of the remotest areas in Western Province, until former First Lady Vera Chiluba brought it to the public eye through her work with the Hope Foundation.
Today, Shangombo remains a reference name when one talks about a rural area.
Shangombo constituency shares its borders with Angola and was previously part of Sinjembela, which has since been split to form Sioma and Shangombo.
It has 39 polling stations with 29, 604 registered voters of which 17, 373 are women while 12, 231 are male.
Shangombo, which is known by many people across Zambia as a â€˜hunger-strickenâ€™ area, has started seeing transformation from the time the area was declared a district by late President Michael Sata in 2012.
The area is also poised for further economic boom once the Rivungu Canal, a project spearheaded by the governments of Angola and Zambia, is completed.
The US$3.1 million project will connect Zambia and Angola to an in-land port in Walvis Bay, Namibia.
Apart from the canal project, Shangombo will also house a Sugar refinery and plantation which will be set up at a cost of US$2.7 billion.
The Shangombo sugar project is being spearheaded by a Zambian firm called Programme Against Discrimination in Communities [PADIC].
Like the rest of the country, the people of Shangombo will be electing a Member of Parliament tomorrow as well as the President and council chairperson.
The race for the Shangombo seat has attracted only two candidates â€“ Poniso Njeulu of the Patriotic Front (PF) and Mubika Mubika of United Party for National Development (UPND).
Both Mr Mubika and Mr Njeulu are not new to the people of Shangombo as their rivalry started in 2006 in Sinjembela constituency.
In 2006, Mr Mubika, who stood on the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) ticket, won the seat ahead of Mr Njeulu, who stood on the United Liberal Party (ULP), a splinter party from the UPND.
Mr Mubika polled 11, 754 votes while Mr Njeulu got 7, 894 votes with an independent candidate Paul Liyungu getting 1, 347 votes.
However, in 2011, Mr Mubika, who re-contested the seat under MMD, lost to Mr Njeulu, who was representing UPND, in a race that attracted four candidates.
Mr Njeulu got 6,673 votes with Mr Mubika getting 5, 172 votes while Mutomena Mubiana of PF and Kalaluka Kaundula of the Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) got 2, 912 and 1, 470 votes, respectively.
This year, Mr Mubika and Mr Njeulu will again face off in what will be an interesting race, considering that both have represented the constituency before.
And for the people of Shangombo, the track record for the duo is there for all to see, and it will be up to them to pick who they think will ably represent them, regardless of tribe and party affiliation.
Shangombo has generally been peaceful with only selected incidents recorded in the last week of July.
Both the PF and UPND have blamed each other for the violence.
PONISO NJEULU – PF
Mr Njeulu, who is also Western Province Minister, says he deserves a second term to bring life to Shangombo.
He says under the PF, the area has seen a number of primary schools being upgraded to secondary schools while health posts are dotted around the constituency.
He also says the government through the Zambia National Service (ZNS) has already started upgrading major roads in the constituency.
ZNS is currently working on the 25-kilometre bottom road from Shangombo to Sinjembela.
And Mr Njeulu says the people of Shangombo have resolved to vote for him and President Lungu.
He says the people in the area are proud of the massive development recorded under the PF and have pledged to vote for the party.
â€œShangombo has changed and the people are very happy with the PF. Iâ€˜m headed for victory and so is our President,â€ he says.
MUBIKA MUBIKA – UPND
A former Deputy Minister of Communications and Transport in the Levy Mwanawasa administration, Mr Mubika says he will record a resounding victory over his arch rival Mr Njeulu.
Mr Mubika has since likened his race with Mr Njeulu in this yearâ€™s election to that of David and Goliath in the Bible.
He says as a David, he will whitewash Mr Njeulu despite him standing on the ruling party ticket.
â€œIâ€™m calling myself a David in this race because Iâ€™m small in stature while Njeulu is huge not only in stature, but because he is also standing on a ticket for the ruling party. However, like Davidâ€™s story in the Bible, I will whitewash him on August 11,â€ he says.
He says under his tenure, he started the construction of primary schools and health posts which have not been completed.
Mr Mubika adds that he will also revamp the agriculture sector in the constituency if elected.
And Mr Mubika says he has sourced for funds from UPND president Hakainde Hichilema to tar the Sioma- Shangombo road.
ELIZABETH CHATUVELA, Shangombo