SIMON MUNTEMBA writes
AUTHORITATIVE, intelligent, focused and brave, are just a few words that describe 59-year-old community service worker, politician, mother, and grandmother, Brenda Mwika Tambatamba.
Ms Tambatamba is the first female Member of Parliament (MP) for Kasempa Constituency who describes becoming an MP as a calling from her childhood, driven by the belief that God called every leader to make a difference on this great planet, earth
The Kasempa lawmaker said the burning desire to see people’s livelihoods improved, and the roads in Kasempa upgraded to bituminous standard to unlock economic activities in the area and bring about employment creation, is what motivated her to be in politics.
Prior to joining activity politics, Ms Tambatamba, a holder of Master’s Degree in Social and Community Work, worked as a Manager at Barrick’s Lumwana Mining Company.
This week, the Sun features the UPND Kasempa legislator, and below is a verbatim report of the interview:
The Sun: Briefly, tell us about yourself Madam?
Ms Tambatamba: Well, I amBrenda Mwika Tambatamba, a first born of late veteran MP, Mark Mwika Tambatamba. I was born on 29th April 1961. I a mother of two, and grandmother of two plus, plus.
I attended primary school in the early 70s at Kalusha Primary School, Lukena Village in Senior Chief Kasempa. Later, I attended and completed my form 5 at Mukinge Girls Secondary School within Kasempa. I qualified to the University of Zambia and graduated in 1986 with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Later, in 1988/89, I studied and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Social and Community Work Studies at Bradford University in England.
My work experience includes holding various positions at the Ministry of Labour and Social Services (1986-1989), YWCA Council of Zambia (1990-1993), SNV- Netherlands Development Organization (1993-1996), and Budget Department of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (1997-1998).
My role at the Ministry was UNDP Project Manager, to implement the Copenhagen Poverty Reduction platform of action; the Beijing platform action on Gender and Development. The joint project was funded by the UNDP and implemented by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
I was tasked in this role to target Copperbelt, Eastern, Lusaka and Western provinces to pilot the implementation of the 2 platforms of action. Late in 1998, I was offered a job at a USAID funded CABUNGOZ project, implemented by Pact Zambia. Pact Zambia is a local chapter of a US-based Private Voluntary Organization working across many developing countries.
At Pact Zambia, I headed and supervised 5 multi-million US$ projects including the CABUNGOZ, the Zambia HIV/AIDS Learning Initiative((ZHLI), Y-Choices, A-Watch and the jointly funded Parliamentary Reforms program as I rose to the role of Project Chief of Party and Acting Country Representative. The CABUNGOZ, A-Watch and Parliamentary Reforms projects’ focus was the enhancement of democracy and governance and the role of citizens in policy processes.
In 2008, I switched from Civil Society and international development arena where I had worked for close to 20 years, to Corporate as I took up a community-focused job as Sustainability Manager. My motivation for taking up the job as Sustainability Manager at Lumwana Mine, was to seek a new platform and angle to serve and give back to communities. As a product of North-Western Province, it was time to bite the bullet and leave the comfort of Lusaka and denigrate back home and assist in the positioning of communities faced with new era in mining developments. As a community service worker, I am also a member of the Catholic Women’s League.
When did you join politics and what inspired you?
I felt inspired by the things we did in Lumwana as family and well-wishers, which put smiles on people’s face. Slow as it were, we began to create awareness among the relatively smaller mining interests domicile in Kasempa. So for me, it has been a calling from my childhood.
I was voted as MP for Kasempa under the UPND ticket in the 2016 general elections. By the way, I am the first woman MP for Kasempa.
What do you hope to accomplish personally and for the Constituency?
What I hope to achieve as MP for Kasempa through advocacy and lobbying is to influence Government to deliver on key infrastructure development project like the Kasempa – Kaoma road, and Kasempa-Mumbwa road by having them upgraded to bituminus standard as per Link Zambia government assurances.
Grading and gravelling of key feeder roads of Nyoka and Mukunanshi-Mbulumunene, and completion of township toads is what I hope to be accomplished.
Secondly, through CDF, I would like to improve on education and other community social infrastructure e.g. more community markets, create an increased visibility of Kasempa as a source for agriculture produce and more market linkages with other provinces.
I would also like to scale up on honey productivity and trade in Kasempa for increased district liquidity, and facilitate for more enterprise capacity building interventions. We want to have a more organized communities through coordinated cooperative movement.
What are the major challenges facing your constituency and how do you think could be resolved?
Major Challenges facing Kasempa include, poor road infrastructure to major markets like Lusaka and Western Province districts. Major feeder roads are impassable. An example is the critical Nyoka road, serving more than five wards. It is literally a huge danger to the lives of our people.
Other challenges include the lack of banking facilities, which a very sad development is given that Kasempa is not only a very old district, established in 1902, but also a leading maize producer in the North-Western Province. Just how does the district and constituency grow its economy if many commercial interests are unwilling to invest in a place without banking facilities?
I am calling on our financial service sector to take a keen interest in the opportunities in Kasempa, which now include mining companies both at mining stage as well as at exploration.
Petroleum, oil, and lubricant suppliers are also another area currently underserved despite Kasempa being a major transit route to the west and Salvos bay for the mining supply chain via Kasempa- Kaoma road
A long-standing inadequacy in health and education infrastructure, in terms of secondary schools and district hospital, is a major cry of the people. For a 22-ward constituency, Mukinge Mission Hospital, which was built for a small population of the 1950s, is far outstripped by a population that has grown tenfold.
We need a befitting district hospital while financing for construction of the allocated secondary schools is required to provide a relief of the current pressure on the primary school facilities being shared with secondary schools.
Agricultural input delivery has also continued to be a source of concern for the farmers causing retrogression to productivity. The farmers of Kasempa are capable of producing enough food to feed the whole province if enabled with the farming input by delivering it on time.
What have been some of your achievements since you were voted into office?
Some achievements scored since coming into office in 2016 through efficiently and effectively implemented CD, in that in 2017, I initiated the establishment of a well-balanced CDF Committee whose vice chairperson is a woman.
In terms of projects, we did, using CDF, renovated and built several 1×2 classroom blocks. The Lwamadamba Market, which had stalled, was also funded and completed. Also an ablution for Kasempa Bus Station was completed. Under my tenure, we have also seen the completion of classroom at Lufupa Secondary School.
More than 60-year-old condemned Kelongwa’s 1×2 classroom plus office was renovated, staff toilets at Kamakechi School built, water pump for Kasempa Primary School was put up.
Another achievements scored since I became MP are construction of Shibende bridge, completion of the then incomplete Kateete School’s 1×3 classroom block, and transit market shelter at Musamba in Muselepete. All were done in less than 50 percent 2017 CDF allocation.
Using the 2018 CDF, the first ever classroom block at Mukinda School, which had been running for, more than 10 years in mud brick makeshift sheds has been constructed.
In addition, the first ever 1×3 classroom block with offices at Nselauke New Secondary School was funded. As well as the first ever 1×3 classroom block plus offices at Lubofu’s new secondary school, first ever 1×2 classroom block plus office at Makuka in Kalombe Ward, and renovation of blown off roof at Kabutwitwi School in Kikonkomene Ward.
New additional 1×2 classroom block at Kantenda School in over 40 years, and new market shelter in Shapenda, Njenga Ward were constructed as well as Katombela Market Shelter in Kantenda Ward as well as maintenance of 9 kilometres road in Kanongo Ward.
Also the first ever staff house at Kabikondo School in Kaimbwe ward, and classroom at Nteete School in Mukunanshi Ward have been constructed. Market shelter at Mpungu Market, renovation of Kamatete 1×2 classroom and office in more than 45 years, and more than 20 boreholes were drilled around the constituency from both CDF, equalization fund and ministerial allocation.
Other achievements include, through effective advocacy and lobbying, the installation of telecom transmission towers in Kanongo/Mpungu, Kamakechi, Mukunanshi, Mukema, Njenga-Kalombe, Kelongwa, Maako, Nyoka among other. Through continued lobbying, one of the 9 longstanding health post has been completed in Kalusha, Chief’s capital. Others are in progress at Kizhiba-Kasung’ami and Kantenda.
And other achievements through personal support are that some wheel chairs were sourced and donated in health facilities namely Mukinge Hospital, maternity ward and outpatient at Kasempa Urban Clinic, Jifumpa Health Post, Nselauke Health Post, and Kankolonkolo Health Post. A borehole pump at Nkenyauna Secondary School was drilled.
I have also made contribution of construction materials at Makuka School as well as houses of worship across the constituency. We have also continued to support sporting activities in the constituency e.g. Juba ja Nsomo trophie as well as the long standing MM Tambatamba trophies.
What keeps you going as an MP?
I have a calling from my childhood. I am driven by the belief that God has called us to make better this great planet. The more the people are seeking positions to offer solutions to make the world better, the better for everyone. We must all strive to make a paradise on earth if we aspire for leadership.
It is the belief that we all can make a difference collectively if we put our minds and effort to it. If we apportion the time available to us with a good amount of it to productivity and Community building activities, less leisure and long stretched gossip, we could make this great planet a better place. I implore each one of us to audit our time allocation to productive activities against destructive behaviors and ventures.
Is the constituency demanding? If so kindly share with us.
Yes, the people in Kasempa also aspire and desire a better life through a better-serviced district, a better development road infrastructure, including township roads upgraded to bituminous standard. They aspire to be beamed on ZNBC TV’s programme “My District” like all others across the country. They demand for a shorter route to trade with Lusaka and the Copperbelt.
They deserve an answer from government. They are demanding for better jobs in the public sector and private sector. They are demanding for a closer regulation of new mines setting up in the area. They are demanding for better service; transparency and accountability of agro dealers and all other people put in positions to serve them.
What are your future aspirations in politics?
I am available to the extent that the people of Kasempa desire my services. This applies to many other forms of service desired and offered by the region and indeed the nation. Remember, I have served the nation at NGO leadership, as we well as in a couple of public service portfolios as a board member and Vice Chairperson of one of the public boards, the Zambia Tourism Board. For now, until such a time, I am the UPND MP who represent the great people of Kasempa as their first female MP since time in memorial.
What message do you have for your electorate and Zambians as a whole?
Let us stand together to build our beloved country, mother Zambia. Let us galvanize all her resource, capitalizing on her human capital, selecting her best-suited capital to take us across to where we ought to be. Learn actively from around us. Rwandese are only but humans. Let us take a leaf.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Kasempa, and the UPND leadership for the support they have continued rendering to me.