Friday, 27 March 2009


By Gershom Ndhlovu


In last week’s column, I wrote that Kabwata MP Given Lubinda and other MPs were not solely responsible for the development of their constituencies, but the local authorities under which those areas fell as well as the central government. This was after Kabwata residents demonstrated against the MP and a Non-Governmental Organisation, Forum for Leadership called for Lubinda and other MPs perceived not to be “delivering” to step aside.

I wrote: “I wonder if (Edwin) Lifwekelo implies that MPs should take over the overall development of their constituencies particularly with the K400 million Constituency Development Funds (CDFs) while local authorities and government go to sleep. MPs and councillors can only serve as a conveyor belt for development ideas while local authorities do the rest.”

I received the following response from Mr Justine Mwiinga, a resident of Kamwala South:

“Dear Gershom, whilst I totally agree with you on Magande’s letter to Minister of Transport & Communication, please note that we the residents of Kamwala South do not appreciate your comments on Lubinda. Lubinda and yourselves must not underestimate that demonstration though it may be viewed politically as an MMD affair.

If what Lubinda childishly says those are MMD cadres let him know some of us are not cadres in any way but share the same concerns and are appalled to see the road networks for Kamwala South, Kasama road and Chalala in a deplorable state. Whether you try to justify or not the role of an area MP must be to influence or aid development in his constituency by urging, demanding and criticizing so that together with local residents can see the need especially where wants and needs are many everywhere, as residents we are not privileged to have platform and legislative power to influence government to bring development to the area.

He is also supposed to creatively and proactively liaise with possible local and foreign investors that can help bring development through construction of roads, clinics and other business activities.  It is his role also to work with residents through mobilization of residents to contribute in a formal way and create confidence in community generated and driven projects not just using CDF to tackle floods reactively. All this indirectly and directly an MP should engage government and community to raise the level of life.

Take note that our MP has been speaking in the press print and radio on a number of issues that are general by condemning the president, MMD and other opposition on behalf of his party but what has he done for us to measure his performance since 2001. Rarely has he been pressuring government regarding our problem, which I thought should have been his pre-occupation than trading [sic] more on party lines.

I know his answer will be I have been doing this and we do not need to hear him say it, I feel this is disrespectful to voters. We feel our representation has been mutilated and he needs to address this or else if his thinking is that only government should think on its own without seriously intervening as area MP then he is a mistake to us.

Gershom, try and visit Kamwala South, you will see that the roads are now impassable, then you will appreciate his role, government and our role together to solve this problem. Advise him properly, some people can take mileage in such situation but he should not politic instead we need solutions in Kamwala South than denying that it is not my role to bring development. It is his role to influence development activities as our representative. We are fed up with such lip service.”

If, according to Kabwata residents in general, Lubinda has failed them, I shudder to think what success the other 149 elected MPs have scored in their constituencies with the eight nominated members of parliament together with the president in terms of development.

I have been fortunate enough to visit all the nine provinces of Zambia and most of its 72 districts. I have been to the most urbanized province, the Copperbelt to the least developed North-Western Province (before the new investments that are transforming the area, if at all).

I have seen the least developed areas of the Copperbelt and I have seen metropolitan Solwezi, if we may call it that. I wonder what Lubinda has not done in Kabwata what Benny Tetamashimba has done in Solwezi Central as MP not to attract the ire of the constituents.

As Kabwata residents call for Lubinda’s blood, it is just imperative that Zambians in general start questioning their representatives, from Lubinda through to President Banda, on what they have done for them and, most importantly, what they have not.

If Kabwata residents who literary have access to a lot of amenities can complain against their MP, what about Kaoma and Lukulu residents who have to go through hell on the Dark Forest road to get to Watopa Pontoon on the border between Western and North-western provinces? Would the MPs between Chipata and Lundazi survive for the bad road that people have to endure between the two districts taking more than six hours to navigate the 176 km road?

Who is answerable for the whole lot of boys and girls who fail to go beyond Grade Nine for lack of school places all over the country? Who is equally answerable for those that cannot proceed to tertiary level education when they complete their Grade 12? Woe betide those that cannot find jobs after attaining their degrees, diplomas and post-secondary school certificates as there is no single MP they can point their fingers at for their plight.

Zambians need to discard the culture of being hired at election time and other political junctures for the price of partisan-branded T-shirts, chitenge materials, caps and packets of shake-shake and a few thousands of Kwacha for a few days at the expense of the next five years.

I sympathise with Mr Mwiinga for his genuine concerns, but a number of the people that took part in the demonstration against Lubinda probably just wanted to settle political scores against the opposition MP for his outspokenness against the ruling MMD.

No comments: