[By Chambwa Moonga in Dundumwezi]
THOSE who don’t want to come to Dundumwezi, it’s up to them, says chief Chikanta of the Tonga-speaking people of Kalomo district.
Dundumwezi Constituency is an expanse of nothing significant, except its human population and agriculture fields.
The 57-kilometre road, off the Choma-Namwala tarred stretch, that leads to Chikanta’s palace in Dundumwezi is frustratingly potholed.
There is also an electricity line that runs from the turn-off on the Choma-Namwala road (Muyobe turn-off) to Chikanta palace.
But the constituency is famous or infamous following the August 11, 2016 presidential vote where UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema polled 30,810 votes against President Edgar Lungu’s 252.
The total number of registered voters, according to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) 2016 electoral register, was 40,155.
On Wednesday afternoon, Socialist Party treasurer general and second vice-president Dr Chris Ngenda Mwikisa paid a courtesy call on Chikanta at the chief’s palace.
The traditional leader allayed possible suggestion that prospective voters in the constituency could be unreceptive to certain politicians.
“Dundumwezi is home for everyone and we have not started today receiving politicians. In 2001, BY [Benjamin Yoram] Mwila spent two nights at this palace when he was competing against the MMD. [Lieutenant] General Christon Tembo also came to this place when he was FDD president,” Chikanta recalled.
“Elias Chipimo Jnr, when he was the president of NAREP, came to this palace twice. President Lungu was here (in Dundumwezi) only last month or the other month. We have no restriction! [But for] those who don’t want to come to Dundumwezi, it’s up to them.”
He added that him, in conjunction with his royal council, could not bar some politicians from mobilising support in Chikanta chiefdom: “when the law allows you to run a political party.”
“Why should we say ‘don’t come’? Everyone who has a legally authorised political party can come. That’s what democracy is all about,” Chikanta said.
“I even tell government to say ‘look, me I’ll allow everybody’ because I tell them ‘you’ll be the same people who will say ‘No! Tongas don’t allow others; they only want Hakainde.’ You are free [to come] so that you don’t blame us, if you fail. We’ll tell you ‘we gave you the people to talk to but why did you fail?’”
Meanwhile, asked to briefly comment on farming in his chiefdom, given that Southern Province is highly susceptible to drought, Chikanta answered that: “the maize is coming up very nicely, except for some army worms because of the drought.”
He, however, indicated that he did not know to what extent army arms were destroying crops in Chikanta chiefdom.
“But otherwise the rains are trying to intensify now and much of the crop is coming up, it’s being resuscitated. If the rains continue up to the end of February, probably we would be food secure,” explained Chikanta.
“But if it stops before [the] end of February, then again we’ll have premature crops. But we can’t conclude now; we’ll see when we are around February. [But] in terms of planting, the planted hectarage is quite good for the season.”