Friday, April 23, 2010
By Speedwell Mupuchi in Mwinilunga
Fri 23 Apr. 2010, 04:00 CAT
PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda on Tuesday disappointed scores of Mwinilunga residents when he failed to address them at a rally owing to time limitation. And President Banda has said it will be important for people of North Western Province to vote for him next year.
Meanwhile, chiefs in Mwinilunga have told President Banda that they would only support him if he delivered on their demands for development and appointment of their sons in foreign service.
Scores of Mwinilunga residents, some of them having waited for him since morning, were left disappointed when President Banda could not address them but merely promised to return for them on April 25, 2010.
President Banda earlier visited senior chief Kanongesha’s palace, then flew to chief Ikelengi’s palace where he met some traditional leaders and finally flew to Mwinilunga Boma where he was expected to hold a meeting with some more chiefs and later around 16:30 hours address a public rally.
President Banda met chiefs Ntambu, Kanyama and Kakoma, among others, for over one hour at Kwakuwahi Lodge and by the time he went to the venue of the rally at Kaunda Square, it was late as he had to fly back to Lusaka before sunset.
However, President Banda merely thanked the residents for coming and apologised that he could not address them because of time.
“Can I please say thank you for turning up in large numbers for this rally. I feel very embarrassed that I could not arrive here earlier. It was impossible to leave their royal highnesses who had called for a meeting,” President Banda told the crowd amid shouts and murmers.
“The reason I can’t talk to you is because of our helicopter which doesn’t travel after sunset. I have decided that on Sunday, April 25, I will return to address you.”
As he said this, some people in the middle of the crowd disapproved that suggestion while those in front, mostly MMD members ululated.
“Please come back in large numbers. I am very sorry for what has happened. Those who know me, know that I keep time. Because I respect you, some of you have travelled long distances, some have been in the sun waiting to meet me. I promise, I will be here on Sunday to address you people of God,” President Banda repeated.
As the President’s motorcade left the arena, some people said the head of state had decampaigned himself.
“We came in the morning around 08:00 hours. All this time we have been waiting to hear from him, now he comes to say I will not address you. This is campaign time and when we go back to our homes, people will ask us what the President said and what will we say?”
Some people were heard doubting President Banda would fulfill his promise to return to Mwinilunga on Sunday.
And the chiefs gave President Banda a list of names of their ‘sons’ they would like him to consider for appointments into government and foreign missions.
The chiefs noted that none of their sons were in foreign service.
The chiefs also demanded that the district be connected to the national electricity grid and also to have better roads.
They also expressed concern that the province had nothing to show for its huge contribution to the Gross National Product.
Chief Ntambu particularly told President Banda that they would support him only when he delivered on their demands.
And several MMD cadres were disappointed that they could not be given opportunity to meet President Banda.
The cadres even boycotted food and drinks offered to them to silence them.
The cadres who arrived at Kwakuwahi Lodge were told that they could not meet President because of the meeting with chiefs.
This infuriated the cadres who complained that they were the ones who suffered during election campaigns and needed audience with the head of state.
“Chwufuntenu wejima wechwu, chwakayimona kuma campaign! (Let’s all go back, we’ll see them during campaigns),” complained one of the vocal male cadres.
As this went on, some of the MMD cadres were seen attempting to calm the other cadres but to no avail until President Banda’s press aide Dickson Jere directed Mwinilunga West member of parliament Elijah Muchima to resolve the matter.
Muchina then asked the cadres to stop complaining and he directed them to a place where food and drinks were kept.
After a few minutes, the cadres decided to leave in frustration.
Mwinilunga district MMD chairperson Allison Kamuna said the cadres were told to go to Mufumbwe where others were campaigning if they wanted to meet the President.
Earlier in the day, President Banda held closed-door talks with senior chief Kanong’esha at his palace, some 46 kilometres from Mwinilunga Boma.
In an interview later, senior chief Kanongesha said he talked about development of Mwinilunga. He said he submitted proposals to President Banda to have Mwinilunga connected to the national electricity grid and impressed on the head of state to have a railway line up to Angola.
Chief Kanongesha said Angola had already built a railway line up to the border with Zambia and the onus was on Zambia to do her part.
“I also submitted a proposal for a youth training centre in Mwinilunga. We have a lot of school leavers and school dropouts; there is an explosion in Mwinilunga, so we need that to be funded quickly,” he said.
He also said he had invited President Banda, DRC’s Joseph Kabila and Angola’s Eduardo Santos to this year’s Chisemwa Cha Lunda held at his palace every September.
He said he wanted the three leaders to foster unity since they all hailed from Mwanti Yanvu.
Before the private talks, Jesman Sambaulu said President Banda was a steady man who should rule continuously.
And President Banda said he was extremely happy to see chief Kanongesha’s palace. He said his ambition, as long as he remained President, was to try and visit many chiefs.
“You have been very kind to me, even when you come to Lusaka. I am very happy for the words for my continuing as President of this country. I thank you. I will try my best to do what is humanly possible, to do for the people here. Although it’s far away, but they need a lot of things,” he said.
Chief Kanongesha gave President Banda two oxen, cassava, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and traditional Lunda vegetable, kateti.
And addressing people who gathered to see him at the palace, President Banda thanked Zambians for the peace and development in the country.
He said he was touched by the warm welcome he received from chief Kanongesha whom he described as cheerful, wonderful and one who was truly friendly to the President.
President Banda noted that while colonialists built infrastructure like roads, schools and hospitals in almost all provinces, he could not say the same of North Western Province.
He said the British only built the road up to Solwezi and they abandoned the whole project. He said he was proud of what late President Levy Mwanawasa did in emphasising on North-Western as one province that required uplifting to levels of other provinces.
“I saw the results of the elections when president Mwanawasa stood in 2006 and the whole country was waiting for the results from North Western Province to come out. At that time our good friend Michael Sata, Satana, was leading by far and everybody thought ‘oh my God we would have to have a leader who is like a snake, who is proud to be a snake’! People were worried but when your vote came out, everybody saw that he had wiped out what he had gained on the Copperbelt,” President Banda said.