Come back, ‘absentee’ councillor urged

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GLORIA KANGWA writes

@SunZambian

SOME residents of Mushindamo district’s Chikola Ward in North-Western Province have bemoaned the absence of their area ward councilor Olivia Katanga who has allegedly relocated to Solwezi district following her appointment.

The residents raised the many problems they face in their ward during a public hearing about local governmental activities held in Chikola Chiefdom.

The meeting was organised by Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) under the project called Local Participation in Governance (LoPaGo) with support from Civil Society Partnerships Programme (CSPP).

It is funded by The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Zambia.

Speaking during the hearing held at the royal grounds, Chief Chikola complained that he had made numerous calls to hold meetings with the councilor without success.

Chief Chikola said the community was not participating in the planning, budgeting and implementation of any projects and were not being consulted on issues of budgeting at ward or district levels.

“The citizens have never held any meeting with the council, the councillor and the council chairperson to discuss developmental projects and the council does not share information on the projects if there’s any progress made or successes, challenges or anything,” he said.

“If members are actively participating in the budgeting process of their projects, it will help in improving their areas and it will also help in making follow-ups on the progress made or even challenges being faced,” Chief Chikola said.

Ward residents who attended the meeting bemoaned the poor education infrastructure in their area.

Despite the ward having a radius of about 80 kilometres the ward had only four schools.

“We only have one secondary and three primary schools, also coupled with inadequate teachers in this big our district. There is poor road network and there is no access road to the chief. Not forgetting the poor health facilities,” one of the residents said.

He said access to proper clean and safe drinking water was only available in some parts of the ward like Kipushi border, which received its water from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

But Ms Katanga, speaking in a separate consolidation meeting held for Mushindamo town council at St. Dorothy’s Catholic Church, said the allegations that she had relocating to another district were not true.

She said it had been long since she engaged with her community. However she had not relocated to Solwezi.

“I am not saying I don’t go to Solwezi. I do but it is for my personal businesses because you know the role of being a councillor is a temporary engagement. Those saying I don’t attend meetings are not certain with the truth. I do travel for school in Lusaka but I still come back to my ward,” she said.

Council chairperson Luckson Mulumbi said the municipality had not engaged citizens in the planning, budgeting and implementation of projects because no Ward Development Committees (WDCs) existed in all the seven wards of the district.

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