BENEDICT TEMBO, Mwandi
VOTING for executive mayors and council chairpersons has added a new dimension to the campaigns for next weekâ€™s general elections.In rural areas, aspiring members of Parliament are moving in pairs with those contesting the position of council chairpersons as they solicit for votes in their districts.
In Mwandi, there are four people â€“ all males from the Patriotic Front (PF), the United Party for National Development (UPND), the Rainbow Party and the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) who are contesting the parliamentary seat.
Oddly, but not surprising, only the ruling PF and opposition UPND are competing for the position of chairperson for Mwandi District Council and both parties have fielded women.
Sipalo Mulima â€“ PF
The PF has lined up Josephine Sipalo Mulima, a retired teacher who intends to transfer her massive experience in the public service to the management of the local authority.
Mrs Mulima, who will be turning 59 in October, says she was motivated to join politics after retiring to emulate her brother, veteran politician late Munukayumbwa Sipalo, who is her role model.
Mr Sipalo fought for Zambiaâ€™s political independence.
â€œThe legacy he has left behind needs to be carried forward by a family member,â€ Mrs Mulima, who is married to a retired warrant officer Samuel Sundano Mubuku, says.
The mother of six children who served the Ministry of Education for 29 years says Mwandi needs to be developed using the available natural resources.
â€œTo achieve that, the district, which is still in its infancy, requires visionary leadership,â€ she says.
Mrs Mulima, who retired as district education board secretary for Mpulungu in 2012 and is now running Mbuyoti General Dealers in Mwandi, is convinced that the PF will win next weekâ€™s general elections.
â€œPF victory will mean more people-oriented development for Mwandi. This will improve the living standards of our people, through infrastructural development, agriculture development, provision of better healthcare facilities and improved telecommunication,â€ she says.
She says there are vast opportunities for the people of Mwandi, which include the abundant water from the Zambezi River, which can be used for irrigation schemes and fish farming.
There is also virgin land which can be turned into commercial farms that can boost food production while the abundant sunshine is ideal for creation of solar farms to make Mwandi energy-sufficient and industrialise the district.
With Mwandi being placed at the heart of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation, Mrs Mulima says the district is destined to be the number one tourism destination in the world.
â€œThe leadership of Mwandi district needs to create tourism products and tap what is found in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation market,â€ she said recently, pointing to the seventh wonder of the world, the Victoria Falls, the Chobe National Park in Botswana, the Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe), the Okavango Delta (Botswana) and the Bwabwata National Park in neighbouring Namibia.
Mrs Mulima says the proximity of Mwandi to three countries â€“ Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe â€“ will provide a market for agricultural products because of the reduced transport cost.
She says if the opposition win the Mwandi seat, it will be bad for the people because if the PF triumphs at presidential level, the in-coming government will not continue with the development agenda.
â€œA lot of projects will grind to a standstill, with a consequence of untold suffering on the people of Mwandi,â€ she warns.
Gilnard Mufuti â€“ UPND
The UPND is floating Gilnard Mufuti, 41, for the position of chairperson for the Mwandi local authority.
A former councillor in Lowanja ward and council chairperson between 2014 and 2015 under the MMD from 2011 to 2016, Mrs Mufuti has pledged to work tirelessly with the in-coming Member of Parliament and the entire constituency to improve the livelihoods of people.
She intends to facilitate the provision of clean and safe drinking water, establishment of more health posts, mobile network provision and many more development projects.
â€œI feel I will do things differently now because I will oversee the entire constituency,â€ Mrs Mufuti says.
Counting her successes during her reign as councillor and council chairperson, Mrs Mufuti says she facilitated the construction of Lipumpu Secondary School and setting up of Lutaba, Simungoma and Chisu health posts.
â€œI also fought to convince the council to set up the Mwandi boma (district administration) in my ward. Those are but some of the achievements I had as councillor and chairperson,â€ she says.
The mother of two is confident that the UPND will scoop the Mwandi parliamentary seat and ward elections because the people are tired of PF promises which are not fulfilled.
Mrs Mufuti, who runs a grocery shop in Mwandi, was one of the nine councillors who ditched the MMD to join the UPND.
Apart from the grocery shop, she also rears cattle, goats and pigs.
â€œI am also a serious farmer,â€ Mrs Mufuti, who has been offering a service to the people of Mwandi, says.
BENEDICT TEMBO, Mwandi