...what can other Constituencies learn from the Chifunabuli incidence? 15th December, 2020. The people of Chifunabuli Constituency, in Luapula Province, since 1983 when they sent the late Clement Mwananshiku (UNIP) to Manda Hill, have always asked successive governments to construct them a bituminous road from Musaila to Kasaba. In the recent years, they have equally been genuine requests to extend it to Luwingu, an exercise that would create a shorter corridor between the port of Dar Es Salaam and the Congo DR resulting in a huge reduction in transport costs and a surest way to increase business activity in the Constituency. After the Clement Mwananshiku era, Chifunabuli has since had five MPs in Anthony Ndalama (UNIP), Ernest Mwansa (MMD), Kennedy Sakeni (MMD), again Ernest Mwansa (PF), Mutaba Mwali (PF) and the incumbent, Ponde Mecha (PF).
While the people of Chifunabuli have witnessed and have appreciated various developmental projects, what has been on the mind of the people in the area is why their place has been neglected by all successive governments in terms of the construction of the Musaila - Kasaba road. In the Constituency, consequently, the key campaign message remains the road. Realising this unquenched thirst, one Professor Charles Mwape, Vice Chancellor of Icof University in South Africa, but a product of Ng'umbo, recently embarked on a "No Road No Vote For PF!" campaign ahead of the 2021 general elections, reminding the Constituents that the current government does not value them and that it should be rejected together with the incumbent area Member of Parliament, Hon. Ponde Mecha. Dr. Mwape hit the road running with the Mwankole song, to the excitement of the opposition alliance in the area. "If the Patriotic Front cared about Abena Ng'umbo, it would have attended to the request to construct the road. Consequently, only two things will happen in 2021.
It is either a different party or an independent candidate, who will rise together with the people to give a protest vote, that will carry the day! Some of us we don't go halfway once we embark on any mission. We are going to punish everyone who has failed to construct the road by giving them a protest vote!" he is heard in one of the several audios from his "No Road No Vote!" campaign WhatsApp group.Dr. Mwape's crusade, however, has hit a hard rock on the ground. He has learnt that while he has been busy mobilisation on social media, enjoying the confort of his air-conditioned office in South Africa, Hon. Mecha and his Patriotic Front structures on the ground have been busy mobilising voters, risking their lives crisscrossing lake Bangweulu. But probably of major concern to the predominantly Patriotic Front Chifunabuli residents is Dr. Mwape's narrative in his Mwankole video on board his car. "When you hear the President passionately appealing to civil servants to work with him then you know something is wrong.
The problem is not with the civil servants but the leadership. In the 21st century, you have a Chairperson of the Civil Service Commission who worked in the UNIP area as a junior officer, Mr. Chasaya, only to be brought back as a Chairperson, that's nonsense, that's rubbish," he said. The problem here is that the appointing officer that is being belittled, is the President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, who happens to be the Patriotic Front party president, confirming that Dr. Charles Mwape is certainly not with the Patriotic Front. For a people that believes in the developmental programmes and leadership of the Patriotic Front, the pronouncements were a little too bitter to swallow and Professor Charles Mwape has been made to go halfway this mission and, rightly so, after realising his pronouncements cannot be mated to the reality on the ground. Shocking as it may sound, he now wishes to challenge the incumbent, Hon. Ponde Mecha, on the Patriotic Front ticket promising the people of Chifunabuli Constituency continuity.
Has he suddenly realised that the Patriotic Front is doing a great job in the Constituency? Was his earlier campaign message mere political rhetoric? No it was not. He is just a political opportunist. The wisdom behind Dr. Mwape's flip flop type of politics has left many wondering what his major interest is, whether it's his political ambition of becoming a Member of Parliament or the plight of the residents of Chifunabuli Constituency as he keeps on saying in his WhatsApp voice notes. And just where has he left his "No Road, No Vote For PF" followers? That's if he has not lost them. Many Chifunabuli Constituency PF members I have spoken to are of the view that Dr. Mwape has only managed to bring confusion in the Constituency party structures. They are wondering whether he has been planted to split the votes for the presidency. For any form of development to be realised, one needs to define a vision and lay a solid foundation. Chifunabuli has a new Boma with the necessary manpower a situation that promises to improve service delivery.
With this in place, what the Constituency needs is a capable vision carrier and it does have one in the incumbent. If Dr. Charles Mwape feels Hon. Ponde Mecha is not capable, he must state in clear terms his deficiencies for the Secretariat to take note of. If, on the other hand, he feels he is just a better candidate and wants to continue where Hon. Mecha will leave, has he worked with the incumbent to understand what the Patriotic Front is doing in the area? What lessons has he learnt from the incumbent? This is because it is impossible to improve on the works of the incumbent without understanding party's vision for the area and its developmental projects portfolio. Equally, does Dr. Mwape fully understand Hon. Mecha's ongoing personal projects that were initiated to swiftly address the Constituents' needs to supplement the insufficient CDF? I understand he is building five community schools and a clinic, not to mention rehabilitation works on several infrastructure in various communities using his personal pocket. How will Professor Charles Mwape continue with these projects without working with the incumbent or will they be abandoned for more superior ones? Development should never be sacrificed to massage the political egos of some perceived political elite.
Politics should not be a self preservation tool but a vehicle for development. To any enlightened mind, it's clear that Professor Charles Mwape is after his political ambitions and does not care whether the Patriotic Front and the people Chifunabuli Constituency get bruised along the way. Of great interest to me is the burning question about the responsibilities of an area Member of Parliament. Who has really failed to deliver the road to the people of Chifunabuli? Was it Clement Mwananshiku, Anthony Ndalama, Ernest Mwansa, Kennedy Sakeni, Mutaba Mwali, or the incumbent, Ponde Mecha? Let's tell the people the truth in order to manage their expectations. Professor Charles Chanda is not bigger than the six MPs combined or the previous governments, unless he will use his personal funds, in which case he does not need to be MP to achieve the feat. Someone is not telling the truth.
Development is a collective effort. It's issues like this one which have inspired us to pursue a quest for a new governance system that must prioritize development over political hegemony. You can't make your candle shine any brighter by blowing off that of your opponent. Aspiring candidates must not switch off any burning candles in the Constituencies of their interest if their interest is to keep their Constituencies lit. The Patriotic Front needs all available candles.
Mpandashalo Evans Mwewa WhatsApp: +260 977 430702