29 December 2012

Zambia: Itezhi-Tezhi Assured of Development

THE people of Itezhi-tezhi District have over the years longed for equal sharing of the national wealth and yearned for development to get closer to them and now that seems not to be far from being achieved.

Itezhi-tezhi district is situated in the south-west of Central Province and lies west of Namwala town and also borders Kafue National Park, yet it has lagged behind in terms of development.

Surrounded by abundant resources, the district has remained under-developed and the question one may wish to ask is what could have gone wrong?

On February 6, 2012 President Michael Sata issued a directive to re-align Itezhi-tezhi District from Southern to Central amid resistance not only from politicians but some tradition leaders as well.

Central Province Permanent Secretary Annie Sinyangwe, who recently toured the district, assured Zambians and traditional leaders in Itezhi-Tezhi that the recent re-alignment of the district was aimed at ensuring that it delivers its development programmes to its people.

Mrs Sinyangwe said that it was through structures such as the creation of the districts that the Government would be able to fulfill its promises to the people who are anxiously waiting for that to become a reality.

Responding to concerns raised by Chief Kaingu at his palace, during Mrs Sinyangwe's recent familiarisation tour of the district, when she paid a courtesy call on him, Mrs Sinyangwe said the government under the leadership of President Sata means well over the recent re-alignment programme and was interested in delivering to all Zambians despite their political affiliations.

She explained that some areas were too vast and that the only way to reach out to people and allow equal development programmes was through the re-alignments and creation of more districts which needed support from all.

She said if such steps were not going to be taken, some Zambians would continue to lag behind in terms of development, describing it as unfair and that the Government would continue to engage chiefs in such programmes.

"Your Royal Highness, I want to assure you that the programmes we have started such as re-alignment and creation of districts is aimed at sharing the national cake equally and the Government's fear is that if this is not done, we will have a situation where some people remain behind, which should not be the case," Mrs Sinyangwe said.

She said the traditional leaders remained key to the development of the country and that was the reason why the Government was engaging them in various sectors of the economy and urged other government departments to ensure that they got involved as well if development programmes were to be implemented.

Earlier, Chief Kaingu asked the permanent secretary to explain the reasons why the district was moved to Central Province, adding that he has received a lot of queries but had no answers to give to his subjects.

He said despite some explanations being given, it was still not clear why his district was moved to Central Province.

However, the chief paid tribute to President Sata for increasing their allowances, saying the move has resulted in them managing their own affairs, thereby reducing dependence on Government for assistance all the time.

On health, Mrs Sinyangwe said the move to re-align the districts was in a bid to improve health service delivery in the district as well as public administration compared to the current prevailing situation in the district which has resulted in in only few people accessing health services.

She said it was disheartening to learn that some health posts are being manned by cleaners in Itezhi-Tezhi who are even assisting expectant mothers to deliver due to the lack of qualified personnel in the area.This puts the mother's lives in danger in case of any complications arising.

The cleaners with their little knowledge of pharmacy are further reported to be dispensing medicines to patients, a situation that has shocked Mrs Sinyangwe who ordered that the situation be corrected because lives of people should not be experimented upon in this way.

"How can a cleaner be allowed to dispense medicine and also inject patients this is unacceptable,?"

"What will happen if something goes wrong, that young lady may end up in prison for murder, is that what we want to see," Mrs SInyangwe asked?

She said she would engage the Ministry of Health to chart the way forward and assured the local people of Government commitment in ensuring that they were provided with quality health services.

She said the Government has committed itself to ensuring that it constructs houses for health personnel by also ensuring that health services are taken closer to the people.

Earlier, during a briefing, senior resident medical officer at Itezhi-tezhi, Mulenga Kampamba disclosed to Mrs Sinyangwe and her entourage that due to lack of staff at Lubwe and Bunga Health Centres they have been closed while Ngoma has two qualified staff while Masasani only has an environmental officer running the clinic.

Dr Kampamba said most of the area had staff posted but due to lack of accommodation, most officers opted to be re-posted to other areas where they can easily access housing.

On Education, Mrs Sinyangwe said the Government was alive to the fact that education is key to the country's development and it is for this reason that it has embarked on the construction of more schools in various districts of the country.

She, however, said the Government wants to see to it that all uncompleted structures are completed on time before starting to construct new ones.

She said the government would continue to encourage families to take their children to school as that was key to the development of the country.

She said providing free education was one way of encouraging parents to educate their children.

On agriculture, Mrs Sinyangwe said the government has committed itself to ensuring that Zambia continues to be the food basket for other nations but that can only be achieved through improved farming methods.

She said the provision of farming inputs to small-scale farmers was another way of contributing to the national food security.

She ,however, called for efficiency in the manner in which farming in-puts are distributed so as to allow farmers plan for the future .

On roads, Mrs Sinyangwe said a good road network is key for any meaningful development and that she would engage the Road Development Agency (RDA) to see how best to open up the areas.

She said there is need to work on the Itezhi-tezhi Road which is in a deplorable state and that the answer to attracting investment lies in a good road network.

And a Chinese Contractor pleaded with the Government to urgently consider rehabilitating the Itezhi-tezhi Road to avoid delaying the multi-billion power hydro project.

Sino-Hydro project manager in Itezhi-tezhi, Mr Yanwei said the company has committed itself to completing the project by 2015 but was concerned with the state of the road used to transport construction materials.

He told Mrs Sinyangwe that the road was important to the success of the project and was interested in seeing to it that it completes the project within the specified.

He said once the project is completed it would generate about 120MW of power and that the total project cost is pegged at US$138million.

On energy, Mrs Sinyangwe said with the construction of a hydro power project the area would attract investment and reduce stress among the residents on increased load shedding.

She said the power project was key and that the Government was interested in seeing to it that it benefits the local people and the nation as whole and paid tribute to the contractor for working with speed in ensuring that the project is completed on time.

It is clear that President Sata's move for re-alignment of the district was part of Government's robust programme to give practical expression to the decentralisation programme and eventual devolution of power to districts.

It is clear that a district such as Itezhi-tezhi in its former state would have been difficult to administer and posed huge logistical problems to be serviced because it is poorly located and the alignment should be supported by all interested in seeing development.

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