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The Solwezi Central Parliamentary By-Election

There is never a dull moment in Zambia nowadays, particularly during Parliamentary sittings, and during campaigns for Parliamentary by-elections.

In campaigns leading to the Solwezi Central Parliamentary by-election, for example, Solwezi district has become another battleground for political hooligans after violent incidents during the recent Chitambo and Kasama Parliamentary by-elections. And Vice-President George Kunda has not ceased to embarrass himself by making meaningless statements.

It is surprising that Kunda would go Solwezi to campaign for the MMD candidate and make irrelevant statements that: (a) MMD is committed to retain the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation in the new Republican constitution currently being crafted by the National Constitutional Conference (NCC); (b) Hakainde Hichilema was in Solwezi to campaign for Michael Sata because he was unlikely to stand in 2011; (c) the MMD has maintained peace and stability in the country from 1991 and that is what the party wants to continue doing; and (d) that MMD has never been violent.

Many of these statements do not address the issues which are haunting the people in Solwezi District or North-Western Province.

Besides, there was peace and stability during the UNIP era before the MMD assumed power. Also, violence perpetrated by MMD cadres recently has been condemned by all peace-loving Zambians nationwide, and are still fresh in people’s minds. Even in campaigns leading to the Solwezi Central by-election, MMD hooligans have already gone on record as having engaged in violent activities.

And by asking residents to “vote for a candidate that will have an easy access to government resources in order for development to flourish in the area … [and] so that development can continue”, Kunda is sowing seeds of secession. Such language is likely to make people in North-Western Province to start seeking secession due to potential neglect for not voting for an MMD candidate.

President Rupiah Banda needs to remove Kunda from one of the two portfolios he currently holds. He seems to be suffering from stress caused by work overload, or has he become senile at such a young age?

By the way, there are a lot of important projects and programs which the government needs to pursue in the North-Western Province in order to improve the socio-economic well-being of residents, such as the following:

(a) Construction of a nursing school in Mwinilunga, and upgrading the Solwezi School of Nursing so that it can offer Registered Nursing services.  (b) Construction of a bridge on the Zambezi river to connect the east bank

to the west bank where discoveries of oil and gas deposits have apparently been made in Chavuma and Zambezi districts in order to facilitate the exploitation of, and further exploration for, oil and gas and other minerals.

(c) Completion of the tarring and maintenance of major roads in the entire province, including the Mutanda-Chavuma (M8) road, Solwezi-Lumwana road, and the Solwezi-Kipushi road.

(d) Tarring and maintenance of local streets throughout the province, such as the Kimasala, Kyafukuma, Mbonge, Messengers, Kyalalankuba, and Kansanshi Mine streets in Solwezi district in collaboration with the Kansanshi Foundation.

(e) Construction of the planned railway line from Chingola to Benguela in Angola through Solwezi and Mwinilunga districts, maintenance of the Mwinilunga-Jimbe road which links Zambia to Angola, and active participation in the construction of a dual carriage way from Chingola to the Lumwana Mine being developed by Australian Equinox Minerals.

(f) Improvement of infrastructure at Solwezi airport, rehabilitation of all airstrips in the province, and expansion of Kifubwa, Solwezi, Mutanda, Mundanya, and other major bridges in the province.

(g) Development and maintenance of roads leading to tourist centres—that is: the Kifubwa National Monument, Mutanda Falls in Solwezi, Nyambwezu National Monument, Zambezi Source National Monument, Zambezi Rapids in Mwinilunga East and West, Lunga National Parks in Mufumbwe and Kasempa, Chinyingi Foot Bridge, Chavuma Rapids, and the Zambezi beach.

(h) Improvement of accommodation standards in tourist centers by providing incentives for the construction of motels and 5-star hotels (similar to the new Royal Solwezi Hotel and Villas in Solwezi) throughout the province.

(i) Speeding up the connection of areas of districts in the province that do not have electrical power to the national electricity grid, and provision of incentives for private investment in revamping the Mwinilunga Cannery factory.

(j) Construction of barracks in Chavuma, Mwinilunga and Solwezi for army officers at border towns, revival of the Kafumfula Zambia National Service (ZNS) camp in Kasempa district, as well as construction of houses for ZNS, police, military, and immigration officers in the province. An additional immigration border post would also need to be built in the province at Ndunga in Kabompo district on Zambia’s border with Angola to control illegal traffic and trade across the border.

(k) Improvement of the availability of safe and clean water throughout the province through boreholes, dams, water pipes, and protected shallow wells, and also provide for modern sewage facilities and both public and private rest rooms.

(l) Upgrading of resettlement schemes in the province by providing financial and material resources for constructing and/or rehabilitating boreholes, water wells, irrigation dams and canals, feeder roads, culverts, low-cost houses, clinics, basic schools, police posts, and other essential public services and facilities. The schemes include the Kazhiba scheme in Solwezi district, and the Litoya and Luwe schemes in Kabompo district. The planned Chikenge scheme in Chief Kalunga’s area, the Kayombo scheme in Chief Chiyengele’s area and Mumbeji scheme in Senior Chief Sikufele’s area should also need to be provided for in terms of essential public services and facilities.

Funding for these kinds of projects and programs nationwide can come from savings which can be realized from reducing the number of Cabinet portfolios by merging and/or abolishing some government ministries and agencies, abolishing the positions of Deputy Minister and District Commissioner, reducing the number of foreign missions by having single embassies to cover clusters of countries, and initiating many other cost-cutting measures.

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