Focus on Members of Parliament:
CHRISTINE CHISHA, Lusaka
IKELENG’I was declared a district in 2011 and this cheered the residents and brought about a glimmer of hope for development in the district.
Seven years later, the district bears no evidence indicating that upgrading, even though Ikeleng’i boasts of being home to the Zambezi River source.
“The roads are in a deplorable state, most of the roofs of schools have been blown off and there are no proper health facilities to talk about,” said area Member of Parliament (MP) Elijah Muchima.
Like any other rural area in the country, Ikelenge which was part of Mwinilunga West Constituency, still faces challenges in education, health, and road network, making these the priority among the needs of the residents.
Ikeleng’i is a huge constituency with nine wards covering a population of 40,000 people. It borders Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Mr Muchima, who started his political journey in 2004, when he joined the MMD, won the seat in 2006. After serving two terms under the MMD, he joined the UPND and he now sits on the National Executive Committee.
“What drove me to leave the civil service to join politics was the desire to be a voice for the voiceless. The time I have been in Parliament, I have been fighting for Ikeleng,i to get a share of the national cake but it has not been forthcoming,” Mr Muchima said.
He said the Great North Road from Southern province is in a deplorable state and he is urging government to quickly work on the road from Solwezi through Mwinilunga to Angola for easy movement of goods and services.
Mr Muchima said for the past five years, the road has been in a deplorable state, making it difficult for people to transport goods and services.
“The important road which links the nation to other countries has been neglected,” he charged.
And the road to the source of the Zambezi River is also in a bad state, negatively impacting on both local and international tourist visits.
The MP is hopeful that once the Mwinilunga-Ikeleng’i road is rehabilitated, it will be easier to access the site.
“The renovation of the road will have a spill over effect on the number of tourists visiting the source of the Zambezi,” he said.
Tourists are discouraged by the bad state of shelters at the site, according to Mr Muchima.
Due to the bad state of the roads, most of the resident’s movements are restricted more so with the bridges being washed away due to heavy rains.
“The bridges and cassava fields have been washed away by the rains and school roofs are being blown away day in and day out and the government is unable to attend to those challenges,” he said.
Mr Muchima also bemoaned the lack of teaching materials and teachers in schools in the constituency posing a serious shortage of staff due to erratic distribution of human resource in his area.
He said even the introduction of computers as a subject in schools is ill-timed as almost all the schools have no power.
The MP said he is also worried about the newly-introduced policy by Ministry of General Education, which compels repeaters to enter for Grade Nine external examinations because grade nine examination numbers can only be used at first attempt.
“We are fighting early marriages in most rural areas and with this new policy, most children will drop out of school. The repeaters according to the new policy are supposed to pay K75.00 per subject, K200 centre fee and entry fee of K70.00 which most parents cannot afford in rural areas,” he said.
Mr Muchima appealed to the Ministry of General Education to revisit the policy so that pupils in rural areas can remain in school.
He urged Government to promote decentralisation and local community participation in order to build a better and transformed country.
Mr Muchima said the creation of new districts shows Government is determined to decentralise operations for the effective and efficient delivery of services to the masses.
The MP said it is the reason he wants to use his voice to help the Ikeleng’i constituency to benefit from development.
He said the people of Ikelenge are still waiting for government to fulfil its promises such as the construction of the Ikeleng’i district hospital, the opening of industries, construction of administration blocks, housing units and construction of roads.
Mr Muchima said with President Edgar Lungu visiting districts to check on developmental projects, he is hopeful Ikelenge constituency will get the share it deserves.