CHISAMBA UPND member of parliament Caroline Chushi Kasanda says lobbying for development, for opposition lawmakers, from the PF government is as fruitless as milking off a stone. And Kasanda says she will not put her political career in jeopardy by ‘joining’ the ruling PF.
Sharing her experience as a first term lawmaker, half way into her five-year mandate that runs from 2016 to 2021, Kasanda explained that it had been a bit of a challenge because development was not easy to spearhead.
She noted that Chisamba was “very under-developed,” emphasising that feeder roads were in a very bad state.
“As much as you would try and lobby to the government, you’ll not get anything. I have tried several times with the different ministries. So, you as a parliamentarian, you have to go out of your way and try and find the resources to bring development into the constituency,” Kasanda said in an interview in Lusaka on Saturday.
“Being the first female member of parliament for Chisamba since independence, I thought it would actually be a lot easier to bring development into Chisamba. But it hasn’t been easy at all!”
She stressed that lobbying for development from the government had been cumbersome because “I’m from the opposition.”
“We have seen development going to the members of parliament who are in the ruling party as opposed to us who are in the opposition. Even CDF (Constituency Development Fund), the first that was given out to the members of parliament started with the people from the ruling party and we were secondary,” Kasanda lamented.
“So, when you are in the opposition, believe me, it’s not easy to get development from the ruling party, especially under the PF government. It’s like trying to get milk off a stone, which is literally impossible.”
Kasanda disclosed that she had not “received anything in Chisamba” from the government.
“Not even my farmers and agro dealers have been paid!” she complained.
Asked what developmental programmes she had taken to her constituency, amidst the lobbying challenges she highlighted, Kasanda said: “personally I had to take cement to some of the schools because we have grass-thatched classrooms, 54 years after independence.”
“We have children sitting on the floor! Just yesterday (on Friday) I donated 40 desks to two different schools; Munano and Mupamupamu. I donated 20 desks to each of these two schools,” Kasanda said.
“Then I have also had to donate cement; three weeks ago I donated 100 pockets of cement to Chisamba Secondary School that is coming up.”
She disclosed further that she was using her own salary to buy resources needed to help some public institutions.
Kasanda said being a female member of parliament, she was troubled at the long distances to schools which the girl child had to walk.
“That is the more reason why I took it upon myself. We’ve also had farmers within the constituency who have come forth to help the schools that need help. I have two farmers so far that have come forth and are helping. Like at Mupamupamu right now, we have one of the farmers who is very close to the school who is building a one-by-three classroom block,” Kasanda explained.
Asked if she would still want to stand as a member of parliament, having known the challenges associated with spearheading development, Kasanda responded: “I don’t think I would want to give up that easily.”
“I would not want to give up that easily because I don’t think first term reflects the real picture. So, what I think is that in the second term, people will be more conversant with me and they would have more faith and trust in me,” she said.
“Therefore, with the little that I have done, I’m sure they would believe in me that I’m able to do more for them if given another opportunity.”
And on what developments that have happened to rationalise Chisamba as a district, Kasanda said “there is nothing that has come up, to be quite honest!”
President Michael Sata declared Chisamba a district in 2012, de-linking it from Chibombo district.
“As I speak to you, there is a lodge called Jakaba in Chisamba which has just been built and that’s where the council holds their council meetings because they have nowhere else to hold their meetings,” Kasanda revealed.
“In chief Chamuka’s chiefdom, some piece of land was given to the government to build the district administration centre but unfortunately, construction works have stalled because the government has not been paying the contractor. The contractor has left the site and it has been a white elephant!”
Meanwhile, Kasanda said she would not ‘work with the PF’ in Parliament just for Chisamba constituency to be developed.
“Unfortunately, no! I would like to maintain my dignity. I would like to maintain the respect that the people of Chisamba gave me,” said Kasanda.
“They entrusted me to be their representative in the House of laws and I would not like to bring any disappointment upon my people and upon myself. I’m still very young and therefore I wouldn’t want to jeopardise my political career.”