I AM not going into politics to add on to the long list of people who insult one another but to ensure that development reaches the people and the people begin to enjoy what rightfully belongs to them, says Mansa aspiring mayoral candidate Nsama Musonda Kearns.
Kearns says women are peace builders and believes that issue-based politics can unite the country and restore dignity upon every citizen. She got her primary education from Kitwe Primary School and obtained secondary education from Hellen Kaunda Secondary School in the same city. Kearns is a third-year student at Cavendish University in Lusaka where she is studying for a Bachelor of Development Studies.
“I’m generally coming from a teaching background and civil society where I founded and led Care for Nature Zambia and Women Aiding Women,” she tells The Mast.
Kearns is contesting for adoption to stand as mayor of Mansa Municipality on the Patriotic Front ticket. She says for the past 11 years she has been working with the people of Mansa directly and understands challenges they face. Kearns belves that this interaction with communities makes her a better candidate over others. She adds that because of this interaction she is better placed to continue working with them to develop the district.
Mother of two, Kearns says she is contesting for adoption under PF because the party manifesto is pro poor. According to her and the party also has an open-door policy, embracing all Zambians without discrimination. She adds that the president of the party who is also Republican President, Edgar Lungu, is an inspiration when it comes to supporting women participation in leadership.
Without hesitation, Kearns says President Lungu’s address to the Zambian women on women’s day motivated her to enter the political arena. Among the biggest challenges faced by women who aspire for political leadership, Kearns identifies low esteem. According to her, this results from fear of being rejected and that this rejection mainly comes from fellow women.
“Before taking up a career or making decisions, women often seek the opinion of others. And it is during that consultation stage that many suffer character assassination. Others will attack simply because they don’t want you to get to the top,” Kearns explains.
She adds politics of insults, name calling and intimidation based on personal opinions as another challenge disadvantaging women from entering into politics. Kearns observes that despite Zambia being a democracy, people base politics on their interest and loyalty to a political party and not their mandate to serve others.
“We have so much hate speech because many politicians have swayed from their purpose or they lack understanding of what politics is about. Financial capacity to engage with would be voters is another challenge but the saddest of them all is the ‘misconception’ that politics is not about ability to deliver but capacity to buy vote,’’ she notes. ‘’Once a politician establishes his or foundation on corruption, they enslave people and they too become enslaved because their ambition will be to pay back to those people who did them favours. And, personally, these are some of the wrong perceptions I wish to change.”
Kearns says her purpose for entering politics is to serve the people of Mansa, Luapula and the whole country.
“I will not add on to the wrong doings but will strive to do the right thing. And whatever the outcome, I will use both the negative and positive lessons to strengthen women participation in politics,” Kearns says.
Kearns explains that the past 11 years, she has lived and worked directly with the over 217,000 local people in Mansa. She acknowledges that Luapula Province has one of the highest poverty levels in the country. This is against the province’s huge potential to be the economic hub of the country.
Kearns says if voted mayor, she will be better placed to lobby for resources for Mansa and ensure that everyone begins to enjoy their right to life by having a source of income to sustain their livelihoods.
“In addition, Mansa, like any other district in Zambia has a youthful population; but youth unemployment is high. And this can only change once the municipality begins to use its human resource through its many departments to generate funds that will also provide space for employment,’’ Kearns explains further. ‘’The municipality is in charge of providing social services and maintaining social facilities such as markets, parks and gardens, recreation places, education facilities, hospitals, cemeteries, demarcating, surveying and allocating land, constructing roads and bridges, building, plumbing and electrical works. If all these departments are well established and coordinated, they can return revenue enough to increase employment in the district. This way both the informal and formal sector will be well catered for.”
And Kearns promises to ensure that the grassroots structures are strengthened for people participation, such as the village and zonal committees which should then feed into the ward development committees headed by councilors. She says councillors will then take issues raised by people to the council to be tabled during meetings.
“This way we shall reduce the system of people flocking to the mayor’s office seeking help, while increasing their power to decide what they want to be done in their communities. When people are given the power to decide, the Constituency Development Fund, the Land Development Fund and other funds sitting under the municipality as provided for under the local government act will be put to good use in a transparent and accountable manner,’’ says Kearns. ‘’Another important factor that I will keep emphasising on is to ensure that the municipality makes known to the public all opportunities for employment and empowerment so that the rightful people benefit without nepotism or bureaucracies. My plan is to use my experiences, both negative and positive to encourage women to challenge the barriers that suppress them; unite and claim their rightful position in society, especially my fellow rural women. My plan is to increase and strengthen interactive spaces for women to build on their strength, to advance their education, be able to access available opportunities and generally ensure that every woman regardless of status is treated equally with dignity.”