IT’S irresponsible and outrageous for out-going Vice-President Inonge Wina to apportion blame on the people of Western Province for their poverty and lack of development because they refuse to vote for the Patriotic Front, says William Harrington.
In a statement yesterday, Harrington, who is People’s Alliance for Change vice-president, said Vice-President Wina must be reminded that she is a national leader who has the moral and constitutional obligation to ensure socio-economic development is taken to all parts of the country without discrimination on political lines.
“Inonge Wina is reported to have made this remark when she featured on Radio Liseli in Mongu recently whilst on a campaign trail. She stated inter alia, that she was certain that the people of the area have learnt a lesson, must learn a lesson, for not voting for the ruling party,” he noted. “In fact, she should know better that in a multiparty political dispensation such as ours, the government is constitutionally obliged to develop all parts of the country including so-called opposition strongholds. Ironically, the Patriotic Front has upgraded the Kalomo-Dundumwezi road to bituminous standard in spite of the area being an opposition stronghold where the ruling party suffered a heavy defeat in the last elections.” Harrington said the people of Barotseland, where the Vice-President hails from, have looked up to her to bring about meaningful development but unfortunately have benefited very little, “if anything, in terms of poverty alleviation, infrastructure rehabilitation, and development”.
He added that the people were expectant that she would take advantage of her privileged position to ensure fair and equitable sharing of the national cake.
“It is therefore regrettable that Inonge Wina appears to maintain a vindictive stance against her own people and to derive pleasure from their suffering. For the past 10 years since she was appointed by late Fourth Republican president Michael Sata (MHSRP) Inonge Wina has failed, neglected or ignored to publicly recognise the status of Barotseland as the most deprived, underprivileged and poverty stricken in comparison to the other parts of Zambia. Poverty at household level remains the highest at over 80 per cent whereas the national average is about 60 per cent,” he said. “Rehabilitation of the Kafue River Hook Bridge in the Kafue National Park between Nalusanga Wildlife Checkpoint and Tobacco Board of Zambia (TBZ) which commenced over five years ago has long been abandoned. The road section between Tobacco Board of Zambia (TBZ) to Kaoma and beyond remains a “hell run” and yet thousands of kwacha are collected from motorists, bus operators and truckers at the Mumbwa and Mongu toll gates 24/7. The road from Mongu town to the Litunga’s palace at Limulunga is in a sorry state.”
Harrington further pointed out that the Mongu Stadium commissioned by Sata is yet to be constructed, while the building of Lewanika University had stalled.
“The five-kilometre stretch of road off the Mongu-Senanga road which leads to the palace of the Litunga LaMboela Mulena Mukwae and Inonge Wina’s own residence is a treacherous dust road after many years of broken promise that the road would be tarmac. The Senanga township roads project which Inonge Wina herself commissioned during the campaign period prior to the 2016 general elections has been abandoned and expensive high-tech road construction equipment has been lying idle and is being vandalised. The 15km Senanga-Kalongola road to Kalabo and Shangombo is in a serious state of disrepair and is now almost impassable,” Harrington said. “The Patriotic Front government cannot claim credit for Mongu-Kalabo highway across the Barotse plains as the project was first mooted during the [Kenneth] Kaunda era and construction commenced in earnest by the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) government of the late Third Republican president, Levy Patrick Mwanawasa (MHSRP). The Nakatindi road linking Livingstone to Sesheke via Kazungula is yet another nightmare for motorists and truckers into and out of Zambia. Whilst state of the art toll gates have been constructed on various highways around the country, only a simple two-roomed so-called Mongu Toll Gate has been constructed a few kilometres outside the town.”
He also noted that the people have not seen any benefits from the superstructure near the Mumbwa cotton ginnery which collects millions of kwacha daily especially from foreign truckers heavily laden with copper exports using the Mongu and Senanga route up to the Zambia-Namibia border at Katima Mulilo.
Harrington said the route was fast deteriorating because of lack of maintenance using toll fees which “we are told is meant for the purpose”.
“It is most regrettable and unfortunate that our outgoing Vice-President has maintained a deafening silence over the plight of the people of Barotseland and has, to the best of knowledge, never made any reference to the developmental deprivation of the area during her tenure of office,” said Harrington.