Sesheke: Blossoming border town

THE District AIDS Task Force (DATF) in Sesheke is almost getting tired of complaining about the number of bars operating as nightclubs.
According to the local authority’s by-laws, nightclubs are outlawed in the district situated in the southern end of Western Province.
“Legally, we have no nightclubs but there are places [bars] that go on [selling alcohol and playing music] throughout the night,” Sesheke DATF chairperson Christopher Muyunda says.
Mr Muyunda says these concerns have been brought to the attention of the district authorities through the district development co-ordinating committee meetings.
Mr Muyunda says bars are some of the hot spots for spreading HIV in the district, whose prevalence rate is at 13.8 percent.
With a growing population, Sesheke is slowly coming out of its shell as residents begin to reap the benefits of a border town and night clubbing is just one of the growing activities.
Apart from nightclubs, Mr Muyunda said the district has witnessed the mushrooming of boarding houses being rented by some pupils at Sesheke Secondary School, which are now hotspots for the spread of HIV.
Mr Muyunda, whose organisation is diligent in the provision of oversight in HIV prevention, says the number of underage patrons in bars has shot up while entertainment spots by the banks of the Zambezi River, where people swim and drink, are rife for promiscuity.
This is in addition to the booming cross border trade at Katima Mulilo as well as the hundreds of trucks criss-crossing the border to and from Walvis Bay in Namibia via the Katima Mulilo Bridge.
The Katima Mulilo Bridge carries the TransCaprivi Highway over the Zambezi River between Katima Mulilo in Namibia and Sesheke in Zambia.
It links Namibia’s TransCaprivi Highway to the Zambian road network, forming a section of the trade route from south-central Africa to the Atlantic known as the Walvis Bay Corridor.
It also carries tourist traffic.
According to the local authority, Sesheke has experienced inflow of migrants in recent years due to the rehabilitation of the M10 Livingstone-Sesheke road and construction of Katima Mulilo Bridge and upgrading of Sesheke-Senanga road to tarmac, which has made the movement of goods and people easier.
With prospects of increased trade between Namibia and Zambia, the number of immigrants is likely to increase considerably, which will have an impact on the population growth.
Moreover, some people migrate from Sesheke to Namibia in search of employment.
Located on the southern end of Western Province, Sesheke shares international boundaries with Namibia to the south and Angola to the west.
It shares district boundaries with Kaoma, Sioma, Senanga, Mulobezi and Mwandi districts. The district covers 11,252 square kilometres.
Sesheke experiences tropical climate with a single rainy season from November to March.
Minimum temperatures are experienced in June, July and August and frost has on several occasions affected growth of fruit trees such as bananas, guava, mango and cashew nuts.
The district’s lowest temperature recorded in recent years is -4C while the highest so far has been 40.6C.
Sesheke lies in the rainy shadow with low annual rainfall of between 670mm and 760mm and crop growing season of between 80 and 110 days. Annual rainfall totals greatly vary from year to year.
Sesheke has relatively flat topography between 600 and 900 metres above the sea level. The highest point in Sesheke is Lusu Hill at approximately 1,000m above the sea level.
The district has sandy soils locally known as lisheke or lishabati. However, a close examination of the soils shows that there are two types: low land soils and high land soils or sandy clay soils.
The district is endowed with a variety of natural vegetation, which may be subdivided into mukusi forest, munga forest, Kalahari woodlands, mopane woodlands and grasslands.
The Zambezi River, which divides the district into two, is prominent and it has two tributaries – Njoko and Nanombe.
The Zambezi River forms the international boundary between Zambia and Namibia. The Nambwe rapids are the most prominent of the numerous rapids along the Zambezi River in Sesheke.
Kwando River in Imusho ward forms the international boundary between Angola and Zambia.
According to the 2010 Census of Population and Housing, Sesheke has a population of 43,506 (21,472 males and 22,017 females).
Paul Mutale built his lodge, Goodwill, in the central business district a year after the bridge at Katima Mulilo was opened in 2004.
Before 2004, there were only eight lodges but the construction of the bridge has seen the erection of 12 more lodges.
Other developments linked to the construction of the bridge include the Office of the President and Zambia Wildlife Authority offices, also in downtown Sesheke.
The sprawling town, the father of two districts – Mulobezi and Mwandi – just has one financial institution – Finance Bank, which has two branches – in the central business district and at the border.
Vuma is the only filling station servicing Sesheke motorists although there is rampant smuggling of fuel from Namibia, which is sold on the streets.
Sesheke is one of the bread baskets of Western Province going by the massive cultivation of crops in the district.
Maize is the major crop followed by millet and sorghum.
Food Reserve Agency marketing assistant Boniface Chilambe said his office, which is also responsible for Mulobezi and Mwandi, purchased 121,065 x 50 bags of maize this season compared to last year’s 33,294.
The M10 trunk road, which links Livingstone to Mongu, is the nerve centre of Sesheke, making it a strategic town.
To further open the district for development, Government has constructed a 70-kilometre Sesheke-Sioma road to facilitate movement of goods and services between Sesheke, Sioma, Senanga and Shangombo.
Sesheke district commissioner Mihupulo Yumei said the Mazaba-Chisu feeder road being built at a cost of K1.3 million, is nearing completion.
Chisu is a maize growing area.
“Most of our people will find it very easy to bring their merchandise to the market. It will also enable health personnel to reach far-flung areas,” Mr Yumei said of the road being constructed by the Rural Road Unit.
The Zambezi River and its two tributaries – Njoko and Nanombe – are the sources of most of the fish being consumed there and sold to markets located elsewhere.
Zesco has not been left out in bringing development to Sesheke and has electrified some townships near the town centre and the airport.
“Sesheke is not the way it was 40 years ago, it has changed down the line. I also want to appreciate the local leadership [Barotse Royal Establishment], they do not hesitate to give us land for development. This is really where we can appreciate our indunas,” Mr Yumei said.

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