Columnists

Mwinilunga: Land of pineapples

SAMAKAYI

Focus on Members of Parliament:
MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka
IN ITS heydays, Mwinilunga was known for its pineapples. In fact, it used to have a canary factory which only closed in the 90s.

Still, Mwinilunga, located in the North-Western Province, remains with the highest potential for pineapple production in the country together with areas like Nyimba in Eastern Province and Kawambwa in Luapula Province, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
However, a lot of pineapples produced in the region go to waste because of the collapse of the pineapple processing plant. Prior to the collapse of the pineapple factory, about 11,400 pineapples were produced. But currently, most of the pineapple fields have been left unattended to by most farmers because of lack of markets.
There are some efforts to try and revive the pineapple industry in Mwinilunga but so far, nothing tangible has come forth.
Perhaps, it is something that Mwinilunga Member of Parliament Newton Samakayi may want to take up. Obviously, it is not something easy. Past area MPs have tried, and the Ministry of the Agriculture has even gotten involved.
Whatever the case, Mr Samakayi is keen on transforming the fortunes of Mwinilunga.
“I have a service charter with the people in my constituency which clearly states that we should work together to improve the status of our constituency,” he says. “We both have a role to play if we are to see change, leadership is about giving power to the people to fully participate in national development.”
Mr Samakayi, who represents the United Party for National Development (UPND), says his duty as MP is to lobby from Government, the Church, traditional leaders and other stakeholders on behalf of the people of Mwinilunga.
“My political aspirations emanated from my educational background, I went to a grass-thatched community self-help and this was the motivation for me to join politics,” he says.
Mr Samakayi, 57, who is the second born in the family of seven, started his primary school in Mukuma area in chief Kanyama’s chiefdom in Mwinilunga in 1970.
He later went to Kanyama Primary School and then Solwezi Technical Secondary School where he completed in 1983.
After secondary school, he started work at the National Agricultural Marketing Board (NAMBOARD), which in its existence was known as one of the most difficult parastatals to run.
NAMBOARD later sponsored him to study for a diploma in finance at the National Institute for Public Administration (NIPA).
When NAMBOARD was dissolved, he moved to North-Western Province where he started working with the cooperative union. But he did not stay long before moving to Kitwe City Council where he worked as a group accountant and rose to the position of chief accountant.
After three years of work, he moved to Chipata Municipal Council as deputy director of finance and later got promoted to director of finance.
In 1996, he moved to Lusaka City Council (LCC) as deputy director of finance. He was later promoted to director finance until 2001.
Mr Samakayi left LCC in 2001 and went on to do business. But he rejoined Government in 2004 and worked as an assistant director in the decentralisation secretariat in charge of revenue mobilisation in the Ministry of Local Government and Housing. He was later transferred to the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs where he worked as deputy clerk under the House of Chiefs before he joined politics in 2011.
“I first stood in Mwinilunga on the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD), I failed but I did not give up. I stood again in 2016 on the UPND and won,” he says.
Mr Samakayi says he wants to make a difference in Mwinilunga Constituency by giving power to the people.
“I have watched many members of Parliament come and go from 1973 when Mwinilunga East, where I was based at that time, was declared a constituency,” he says.
“I have put in place a mechanism in place which will allow me together with the people to work together. We are going to take stoke of what we have done at the end to see how we can turn our failure into success.”
But there is certainly a lot of work to be done.
Mr Samakayi says he buys 20 bags of cement and 30 roofing sheets to build teachers houses in all the 19 wards of his constituency while the people build blocks.
“The development of Mwinilunga Constituency must not be placed on me as a member of parliament but for all of us. My responsibility is to lobby from Government to ensure that we have good roads, clean water, schools, and a good communication system,” he says.
Mr Samakayi says most of the roads in his constituency are impassable especially during the rainy season.
“I am engaging the Road Development Agency (RDA) to work on the roads in the constituency,” he says. “The road from Kalumba to Mwinilunga and all the feeder roads leading to all the six chiefs’ palaces are bad. The worst road is the one from Lumwana to Kandimba, the border area with Democratic Republic of Congo and the people are mostly cut off when it starts raining.”
Mr Samakayi says he will work with Government so that he takes development to his constituency.
“Working with government does not mean joining them, it only means making them accountable for the promises they make to the people,” he says.
“I don’t support opposition MPs who say they cannot work with government, working with government means lobbying on behalf of the people. Opposition MPs must separate party issues from Government work. Zambia is a democracy and each one has a duty to belong to a party they so wish, I believe both Government and opposition MPs have a duty to ensure that they work for the people who put them into office. This of course has to do with the involvement of the people because they are the ones who understand issues on the ground.”
They certainly do.
Chief Ntambu of the Lunda people is for instance not happy with the poor state of the roads in Mwinilunga.
“It is challenging for people to do their business here especially when its rainy season, many roads become impassable and this makes it difficult for people to do their business. Once we have a good road network, then it will be easier for our people to do their business,” he says.
On the other hand, Chief Kanong’esha is concerned with the levels of illiteracy in his chiefdom.
“The high levels of illiteracy in my chiefdom are a matter of concern and it requires urgent attention.
I would like to appeal to the Ministry of General Education to come and see the situation on the ground,” he says.
“I have observed that Mwinilunga always receives very few numbers of teachers when the teacher recruitment exercise is conducted. And this usually affects the performance of our pupils at school.
“The lack of a secondary school in the chiefdom has also contributed to pupils dropping out of school and early marriage.”

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