Presidential and parliamentary elections will take place on September 20th, 2011. In the past month, candidates for Member of Parliament (MP) have been featured on television debates. They have concentrated mainly on Lusaka and the Copperbelt provinces. I have recorded and transcribed one of the debates below. This debate for Wasakile constituency located in the Copperbelt province (in northern Zambia) was presented on the ZNBC show Race to Manda Hill on September 4th. **Disclaimer: The photo was taken from ZNBC’s website, which constitutes public domain.
Mr Kalobo (Multiparty Movement Democracy – the ruling party)
Mr. Mukumbuta (United Patriotic for National Development)
Mr. Myondo (United National Independence Party)
Mr. Zimba (Forum for Democracy and Development)
Mr. Myondo: We all depend on Kitwe Central hospital. My wish is to have a hospital that will cater to all these bases. When you from say, Kapula, you’re going to spend money to town. The roads are in very bad state. From sections B1 to B7, roads in those townships, you can’t call them roads because they’re ditches.
Mediator: Pick it up from there Mr. Mukumbuta.
Mr. Mukumbuta: There’s poor sanitation there. Imagine today 46 years after independence, people are still using communal toilets. In a big population of over 150,000 we only have one clinic. People of Chambuli have been suffering. No water, no proper roads. Same problem in other places. All these problems are attributed to failure of leadership on part of MMD, the party in control of the central government on part of PF these are the people controlling the government chambers.
Mediator: What are the issues? Mr. Kalobo?
Mr. Kalobo: We have water and sanitation which is being addressed by MMD government and health also being addressed. Mr. _ said there’s no clinic in Chambuli. There is one under construction. There are roads which are being addressed too. We have markets which the MMD is help building. We have problem of unemployment, which was also being addressed because it’s in our manifesto. We have problem of local money supplies. We have other problems like of widows, men in jail, the problems of the orphan, or should I say the vulnerable.
Mr. Mukubuta: I think he’s gone over the bar. We’re not talking about _. I want to disagree with him. The clinic in Chambuli, was it done over night? I totally disagree with him.
Mr. Kalobo: We have a clinic opposite the market, it’s under construction.
Mr. Zimba: It starts with one understanding the responsibilities and duties an MP. As an MP, your main duty is to lobby. You lobby the government for funds in order to tend to the problems you have in your constituency. You also lobby outside the government. There are various embassies in this country today. You lobby there as you look at what should be done in your constituency. Beside that, you need to mobilize the people themselves. People also need to participate in taking care of issues in their localities. So those are some of the things I will do once elected in office to better the lives of people in the constituency and improve the whole area in the constituency.
Mediator: Mr. Monda, issues of unemployment are very high because most activities revolve around Nkana mines.
Mr. Monda: I suggest that people in constituency make what we call cooperatives so that they utilize that fund because as a group it’s easier to access that fund. As a group it’s easier that way. That fund, I don’t think people know about that fund. So sensitize people and have them make cooperatives.
Mediator: How will you solve the problems once elected?
Mr. Mukumbuta: First, and foremost let me talk about problem of lack of employment. This leads to lack of parental care and this leads to juvenile delinquency. Where I am, I am an employer. I have employed hundreds of people. I will teach them that one, I’m able to employ them, I will teach people there how to create jobs. We have the giant, which is the Nkana copper mine. It has 16, 837 workers that is Nkana mine and Mferira. Just Nkana has 16,837. I will lobby for employment for the people. My local people should be employed. We’ll have an open pit.
Mediator: Mr. Kalobo, how will you carry out these promises you have made?
Mr. Kalobo: Let me start with problem with health. That should be built under infrastructural program. In the last years, 27 hospitals have been built. It’s in our manifesto. As I alluded to earlier, in Nkakongo, we have a clinic just waiting to be commissioned. Let me come to employment. The MMD government has built good policies in place that will attract foreign investors. So when those investors come, they’re going to create more jobs in two ways – local suppliers and foreign investors. When people are employed, the government can collect taxes. In short, tax base will be broadened. That will lead to more money in the pocket. That is employment side. I also mentioned the markets. Markets under local government infrastructure. We’ll build more markets. I was citing examples of _. That is just an example. I also mentioned the vulnerable. We have public welfare assistance of which in the last 5 years about 250,000 have been assisted under the food security pack. In the last five years, 700,000 have been assisted under public welfare assistance, in terms of education, health and social services. Thank you.
Mediator: People are stealing copper. How will you solve this problem?
Mr. Kalobo: It’s the duty of community to report to the police and the police should act. It’s not the role of the member of parliament to…
Mediator: A member of parliament should be concerned.
Mr. Kalobo: If the police has not done anything then MP can come in.
Mr. Myondo: Why is this common? Because there’s no jobs. They don’t have jobs, so they go and steal copper.
Mr. Mukubuta: Let me go back and say I want to disagree with the candidate from MMD, where he stated that more taxes and more money in the pocket. That’s the problem we have the MMD, they have the same language. More money in the pocket, more taxes. Let me come to the issue of theft. Illegal mining is the biggest enemy to the mining sector in this country. Once elected, the first thing I will do, I want first to each people manners that it’s not good to use _ and not use brains. One police post in _ and another police post in _ and another police post in _. The most important thing to educate people that it’s not good to be powerful, it’s better you be wise. It’s matter of changing people’s mindset. And we should encourage neighborhood watch. Citizens must be involved. When they see such intolerable behavior, they shouldn’t fear, because I think it’s important because some people think they’re above the law.
Mr. Zimba: I’ve interacted with people on the ground. I’ve seen their difficulties. I’m already self-sustained. I’m trying to better the situation for other people I want to agree with the issue of schools. In this country, even if we are going to boast about the policy of the current government unless we don’t want to think seriously, our education is only basic mind you. I hope you understand what that means. That means just something on the ground, a starting point. It’s not sustaining. You look at the curriculum system, you look at the way these teachers are being trained, you look at the infrastructure, it’s all basic. We need to overhaul the whole system so you get back to situation where you can compete favorably with the outside world. We live in a global village. If I’m educated in Zambia, I should be able to fit in the United states of America. But if you take an educated person in Zambia, they can’t even fit anywhere.
Mr. Myondo: That is true. We only have two basic schools. We have so many children.
Mr. Mukubuta: Let me try to disagree with _. I think there’s only one basic school. The other one is on the other side. We have only one high school, which was not even upgraded but promoted to be a high school. I think it’s a waste of time to not comment on issues of education. Indeed, these schools have number of problems. No teaching aid, even if you have good teaching methodology, without teaching aids, you are not able to teach. Le me give you an example. _ high school has 1700 pupils. Teachers and students ratio are 50 to 1. how can they survive? They don’t even have water.
Mediator: Connected to issue of sanitation, how will you solve the problem?
Kalombo: We are working as cooperating partners. If you go to _, the issue of garbage will be a thing of the past. So there’s a solution already provided. I also wanted to disagree with my friend seated near me, over pupil to teacher ratio. Between 2004 to 2009, the government employed 35000 teachers. This year about 4000, in mid year about 5000. so government is working on teacher to pupil ratio. In case my friend didn’t’ know here.
Mr. Mukubuta: I’m talking about facts. How many were sent to _ high school? You find human waste there. There are conditions that _ people are subjected to. That’s communication enough that they don’t have toilets. When they don’t have toilets they will do what they feel like doing. For instance, they are using 450 families using one communal toilet. That is simple mathematics.
Mr. Kalombo: The issue of toilets. It’s the B section and D section. The other parts, the toilets were done in 2001. toilets are there. People are stealing pipes, they’re vandalizing. Who’s suffering? Rumor is that it’s the opposition. It’s my appeal to the people of _, let people refrain from such bad vices. The MMD government is doing its best.
Mr. Zimba: I wouldn’t blame the people of Wusakele for the situation that is described here. I would look at it that the people of M want the whole world to see how badly they’re being treated. Someone here is boasting about new toilets. There’s no such thing. A new toilet , in my view, if they’re built in the house. He’s talking about pipes stolen. Yeah, why would people steal the pipes because they need to put the toilets in their house. People are subjected to…even the human waste you find, that’s what happens at night. They have to do what they do and put it in the bags and then take them out. I wouldn’t blame them. In my view, this is one compound that should go. It’s not human. That is what I feel, elected to the office, I will work towards that. I’ve been there especially the B section and other side of it. I don’t think people are happy there. The way it is, you can’t improve there. You have to do away with it and start over again. Talking about the stupid toilets on the side of the house is not the way out. The whole thing is a mess.
Mr. Mukubuta: I can’t have such plans of demolishing people’s houses. The best remedy is just to improve on sanitation. By removing such communal toilets. That’s what we should talk about here. You know, there’s not even space in Kitwe for people to go. We need to improve the township there. I think please, there has been a government in power for 19 and a half years now.
Mr. Kalobo: We’re going backwards. These people are telling us toilets are 3 km. You are sitting here lying. Toilets are there. The solution has already been provided by MMD government. Toilets are there.