Features

Mkushi South candidates unveil blueprints

CHAMBO NG’UNI, Kabwe
MKUSHI South is a typical rural constituency beset by challenges which negatively affect the lives of the local people.
Until October 2012, the constituency was under Mkushi district but is now in Luano district.
It covers 9643.54 square kilometres and is made up of 10 wards.
According to the 2010 Census of Population and Housing, the constituency is home to 37,204 people of which 18,816 are males and 18,388 females.
The constituency is an agricultural region where peasant farmers grow maize, soya beans, groundnuts, sorghum and finger millet.
In terms of infrastructure, there are some few government schools and health facilities in this constituency.
The road network is poor, especially in Luano Valley where the terrain is uneven.
People cover long distances to reach the yet-to-be developed district administration and Mkushi district (or Mkushi North constituency) to access basic social services.
Currently, Mkushi South constituency is dependent on Mkushi district, which has infrastructure such as government offices, district hospital, banks, filling stations and housing.
Government is, however, constructing an administration centre, civic centre, post office and housing units for civil servants in an effort to develop infrastructure in the constituency and improve service delivery to the local people.
The gloomy status of the constituency calls for effective representation and the onus is on the local people to choose a parliamentarian, council chairperson and councillors who will deliver to their expectation.
There are only two candidates contesting the Mkushi South parliamentary seat in the August 11 general elections. The contestants are Davies Chisopa of the Patriotic Front (PF) and Sydney Chisanga, from the United Party for National Development (UPND).
Mr Chisopa is recontesting the seat which he won in a by-election on September 11, 2014 when he defeated Mr Chisanga, who then stood on the MMD ticket. The by-election was triggered by the declaration of the seat vacant on December 18, 2013.
The Supreme Court nullified the election of Mr Chisanga who scooped the seat in 2011 under MMD on grounds of electoral malpractices after Mr Chisopa petitioned the outcome of the election.
In the by-election, Mr Chisopa amassed 2,268 votes to beat Mr Chisanga who polled 1,458 votes. The UPND, which fielded Agness Mambwe, balloted 1,012 votes.
At the time of the by-election, Mkushi South Constituency had 12,793 registered voters but only 4, 796 turned up on polling day.
Back in the 2011 elections, Mr Chisanga garnered 3,744 votes, Mr Chisopa 1,373 votes while Kayumba Sunwell of the UPND trailed with 1,035 votes.
This year, the political landscape has changed and the skirmish is between Mr Chisopa and Mr Chisanga, who has left the MMD to join the UPND.
Ms Mambwe, a businesswoman, has this time around opted to contest the position of Luano council chairperson on the UPND ticket and her opponent is PF’s Gabriel Mwami, an entrepreneur.
Both Mr Chisopa and Mr Chisanga say if elected, their main focus will be improving the road network, building schools and health facilities in the constituency to improve living standards.
“Mr Sydney Chisanga, for me, is not a match because I beat him in the by-election in 2014. He was MP for seven and half years and people don’t want to go backwards,” Mr Chisopa, who is Central Province Minister, says.
He says he is enjoying popularity largely because people are happy with President Lungu and the PF government delivering on the promises they made to the people.
Mr Chisopa says the creation of Luano district by late President Michael Sata has put Mkushi South constituency in the limelight, and that now the region is receiving more attention in terms of transformation.
Using the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), Mr Chisopa says, he has facilitated the purchase of a drilling rig which is being used to sink boreholes.
Mr Chisopa says he has also facilitated the implementation of the social cash transfer programme to help vulnerable people in the constituency.
He says the Zambia National Service is now working on the Masansa-Mboroma-Ching’ombe-Mbonshya road to open up Luano Valley and improve connectivity. A bridge has been constructed across Lunsemfwa River where people had been using a pontoon for many years.
“We will also work on Chembe Road. We have to open up these roads to improve service delivery, and with good roads, we are even promoting agriculture,” Mr Chisopa says.
If he is re-elected, Mr Chisopa says among the development projects he will focus on are the electrification of the constituency and construction of a modern bus station and market.
“I am winning in this election,” Mr Chisopa says. “I am promising the people electricity and opening of a community radio station in Luano.”
And Mr Chisanga, who also served as Central Province Minister during the MMD government, is confident of winning the seat he once held.
Mr Chisanga is, however, tight-lipped on what he will do in the constituency if he is elected.
“I would rather keep quiet, let the results talk in August,” Mr Chisanga, a businessman of Mkushi, says.
Luano district UPND chairman Daniel Mabeti, however, says his party has the right candidate in Mr Chisanga.
“We have the best candidate in Mr Chisanga as he served the people of Luano well when he was MP during the MMD government. He ensured that the CDF was used to improve the lives of people,” Mr Mabeti says.
He says Mkushi South constituency is under edeveloped as it lacks social infrastructure and people have challenges in accessing basic social services.
Mr Mabeti says the poor road network is the major challenge in the constituency and that the UPND is determined to address the problem to improve connectivity.
He says the area does not have a hospital, good clinics and secondary schools, and water is a problem.

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