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George Kunda in Southern Province

Vice President George Kunda’s visit to Southern Province (reported in the *Zambia Daily Mail* article of November 16, 2009 by Wallen Simwaka entitled “UPND ‘Sold’ to PF) is worrisome, especially that it is designed to sensitize people in the province “about the evils of the pact between Mr. Sata and Mr. Hichilema.”

In the article, Kunda is quoted as having “urged [UPND MPs] … to join the ruling party.” In the same article, he is quoted as having accused some private media institutions as “promoting anarchy by their failure to observe professional ethics.” In other words, he seems to be suggesting that the private media should only cover stories which shower praises on the unseen accomplishments of the MMD like the Zambia daily Mail, Times of Zambia, ZNBC, and ZANIS. That, to him, is professionalism; any news media which engages in anything else is deemed to engage in “quack” journalism!

It is now becoming clear that the MMD wants to take us back to 1972 when Zambia became a single-party system. This can be interpreted from the contemplated legislation of the independent media and NGOs to an overt attempt to swallow up major political parties!

If the MMD government cannot re-think the idea of limiting the operations of NGOs and the media, and the apparent swallowing up of major political parties, Zambia is clearly headed toward dictatorship! And there seems to be no way in which the government’s intentions can be thwarted, since the vibrant civil society and independent press which helped us secure a multi-party system are seemingly under the threat of rules and regulations designed to limit their operations.

There are a lot of important projects and programs which Kunda would have have gone to Southern Province to tell the residents how and when such projects would be started and/or completed—projects and programs which would improve the socio-economic well-being of residents. These projects and programs include the following:

(a) Hiring of more healthcare personnel, and ensuring that healthcare facilities throughout the province have adequate stocks of medicines and medical supplies and equipment. Healthcare facilities in the province are in dire need of personnel and supplies—including the Gwembe, Kalomo, Zimba Mission, Kafue Gorge, Mazabuka, Chikombola, Research Station Clinic, Riverside Farm Clinic, Chikuni Mission, Stage II, Namwala, Itezhi Tezhi, Mtendere, Siavonga, Maamba, Choma General, Macha Mission, Livingstone, Chikankata, and Monze Mission medical centers.

(b) Construction of more primary and secondary schools in the province (and rehabilitation of old ones) in order to make it possible for each and every child in the province to have access to education near their homes in all the districts—that is, in Choma, Gwembe, Itezhi-Tezhi, Kalomo, Kazungula, Livingstone, Mazabuka, Monze, Namwala, Siavonga, and Sinazongwe districts. Further, there is a need to address the problems facing educational and training institutions in the province, including the lack of teachers, instructors, housing, educational supplies and equipment, inadequate salaries and allowances, and sports and recreation. It is also important to ensure that salaries and allowances are timely disbursed to all parts of the province so that teachers and other civil servants will not have to trek to designated locations to pick up their money only to be told that their dues are not yet available.

(c) Planning adequately for both the prevention and the containment of diseases like the Contagious Bovine Pleuro-Pneumonia (CBPP) disease (which hit the border area between Kazungula district in Southern Province and Sesheke district in Western Province in recent years) and effective control of the tse-tse fly in order to reduce the incidence of sleeping sickness.

(d) 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 conveniences.

(e) Completion of the construction of irrigation schemes at Simupande, Nzenga and Sinazongwe, including the electrification of the three irrigation schemes. Moreover, there is a need to ensure that the dam at Buleya Malima irrigation scheme in Sinazongwe district is rehabilitated and maintained on a regular basis.

(f) Provision of incentives for the exploration of gas and oil deposits at Kanesiya stream near Sianeja in Senior Chief Mweemba’s kingdom in Sinazongwe district.

(g) 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. Such schemes include the Masasabi scheme in Itezhi Tezhi district, the Kasiya scheme in Livingstone district, the Harmony scheme, and the Siamambo scheme in Choma district.

Funding for these kinds of projects and programs in Southern Province, and in other provinces as a matter of fact, 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.

It is high time the MMD and its leaders started considering criticism of this kind with an open mind. Otherwise our beloved country will continue to move backwards in huge steps.

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