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Upclose with Sioma’s youthful Mbololwa Subulwashe

THAT a woman cannot be in a position of leadership either in the public or private sector including politics is a statement Sioma Member of Parliament (MP) Mbololwa Subulwa has refused to accept.
This is why today, she is the only independent lawmaker in the whole of Western Province, but to get to this point was an uphill battle for her.
Youthful and quite in touch with the grassroots of Sioma, Ms Subulwa participated in the 2016 general elections where she contested the seat of MP under the United Party for National Development (UPND).
In her own words, Ms Subulwa says she could have as well been a UPND policy maker had the party not opted for a male candidate, Mandandi Kaliye.
“The UPND president Hakainde Hichilema told me to step aside for a more experienced person and offered me K10,000 saying I was still young and that I could do business instead; an offer I did not accept,” Ms Subulwa says.
Initially, Ms Subulwa was adopted on the UPND ticket, but when she was turned down, she later filed as an independent candidate after Mr Kaliye also turned up at the nomination centre with an adoption certificate from the opposition party.
Seeing that she was not the preferred candidate, she supported Mr Kaliye after the party reached an agreement to allow him [Mr Kaliye] to lodge in his nomination.
This was after the returning officer refused to accept two adoption papers.
After the party settled for Mr Kaliye, some indunas got angry to learn that Ms Subulwa was not adopted saying people wanted her [Ms Subulwa] to represent them.
It is then that the indunas urged her to file as an independent candidate, promising her that they would back her candidature and ensure she wins.
As it turned out, she emerged winner after edging out Mr Kaliye of the UPND, who got 2,401, while Ms Subulwa polled 4,288 ballots.
“The competition was stiff and I was like the biblical little David fighting the Goliath in the name of UNPD, Patriotic Front (PF), Forum for Democracy and Development and Alliance for Democracy and Development candidates.
Just like little David, I did not give up and the Lord I serve delivered a sweet victory for me,” she said in her maiden speech to Parliament.
Ms Subulwa believes she won the election because she did not politic but promised people development.
She also attributes her victory to God and the Zambia National Women’s Lobby and all the people of Sioma that supported her through and through.
Ms Subulwa recalls how she faced challenges, including lack of campaign materials and the spectacle of violence.
Unlike the other candidates who had campaign materials and possibly a sound financial base, she struggled to print T-shirts for her supporters.
She contested against four men who thought a woman could not carry the day but she still won nevertheless.
“Attempts to draw me into violence were made as my campaign team was attacked on several occasions,” Ms Subulwa says.
A born-again believer, Ms Subulwa says she learnt earlier in her campaign that the battle was not going to be won by her but by God and that proved to be true.
Her victory was not going to be taken easily as she was petitioned by Patriotic Front (PF) and UPND candidates, an action that resulted in the nullification of her seat.
“When you are going through a petition, it’s traumatising, and it’s costly,” she notes.
Ms Subulwa, however, appealed to the Constitutional Court and, to her joy, she was declared duly elected thereby sealing her legitimate ascendance to the seat of power in Sioma in July 2018.
Early life
During her campus life at University of Zambia, Ms Subulwa was in the PF think-tank and was also a sympathiser of late President Michael Sata.
As a student, with her school mates, they drew inspiration from PF deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri whom they supported when she stood as Munali MP.
Her political life was, however, greatly inspired by her late father Tommie Subulwa.
Seeing her father, who was a member of the United Liberal Party (ULP), an off-shoot of the UPND, campaigning with Vice-President Inonge Wina, gave her the enthusiasm to go into politics.
And when her father attempted to stand as ULP councillor in 2006, Ms Subulwa would campaign for him.
During elections, she even left campus and travelled to Western Province to give him support.
Even though her father lost, Ms Subulwa says she learnt from him how to handle defeat.
She says he took the loss as a gentleman and was not bitter as what she sees in some of the politicians today.
“When you lose an election and get bitter, it means it was not about the service but your own interests,” she says.
One day, her father suddenly became ill at the point of death and as if passing on the baton to her, he asked her to look after her mother and siblings.
He looked into his daughters eyes and called her his mother in whom he believed would carry on the family responsibilities and service to the people; and with those words, he quietly died.
And moving Parliament to tears she said, “Bo Ndate or “father’, how I wish you were here today to witness this occasion and hear your daughter, Nancy Mbololwa Manamiye, make her maiden speech.
Ms Subulwa believes much as her father’s political career did not take off, [it] is like he has won it and is succeeding through her.
Achievements as MP
Among some of the projects in the constituency, she has lobbied for the erection of eight communication towers, construction of classroom blocks and a health centre.
About thirty-five boreholes from a target of 89 have so far been sunk, and works on the Senanga-Kalongola-Sioma road, which is critical to the development of the constituency, are under way.
Ms Subulwa intends to contest the 2021 general elections as she believes her work in the constituency is not yet complete.
Ms Sibulwa is the fourth-born in a family of nine children. She did her primary school at Kanyonyo basic before going to Sefula Secondary School in Mongu.
After that, she undertook a teacher training course at Kwame Nkrumah University (then Nkrumah Teachers College) in Kabwe, and later worked as a teacher at Kambule Technical Secondary School in Mongu and Senanga Secondary School.
She furthered her education at the University of Zambia, where she studied for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Development Studies as a major and Public Administration as a minor.
She also enrolled at University of Lusaka to study Human Resource Management, which led to her career as a planner and human resource manager.
Ms Subulwa also served in various portfolios in the civil service before she resigned to concentrate on her political career