By Synd Kalimbuka
Community members from Chingale area in Zomba led by chiefs have petitioned Zomba District Council to consider restoring the area as a Sub-District saying it is the only way to fully develop the sidelined area.
Speaking after delivering the petition to the District Commissioner, Sub-Traditional Authority Nkapita who led concerned members said the area has been sidelined in many development activities.
“It appears no one is caring on how communities are struggling to get social services in the area. Vulnerability levels are too much higher than any other areas in the district,” said STA Nkapita.
According to the letter, this publication has seen addressed to Minister of Local Government and copied to Members of Parliament for Zomba Lisanjala Dr William Susuwele Banda and Zomba Chingale Loney Phiri, Chiefs are demanding for a sub-district so that Chingale area should be independent and start implementing development activities on its own with support from Central government.
“One of the notable example that the area is being sidelined and that many households are experiencing extreme poverty. Some villages from Group Village Headman Mwangata which makes boundary with Blantyre chose to be part of Traditional Authority Lundu of Blantyre because their friends are enjoying development government through the council is providing to them,” said Nkapita.
Nkapita added that this is promoting boundary wrangles between Zomba and Blantyre communities where recently there was a battle between them.
He further said that the area lacks basic social amenities, which make it hard for civil servants who are posted to work there to accept the postings.
“There is no any attention by government through the council to address issues the health, education, agriculture, energy and transport sectors are facing in the area causing civil servants, extension workers and NGOs denying to work in the area,” reads part of the petition.
GVH Chikwenga also told us in separate interview on challenges women in the area face due to under development.
She said safe motherhood programmes are compromised especially during rainy season as no ambulance and vehicle is able to transport patients who are referred to Zomba Central Hospital from health facilities found in the area.
“Some pregnant women deliver on their way to referral hospital because of long distance and shortage of transport to ferry them as the road is impassable during rainy season,” she added.
She further mentioned lack of electricity in many areas, shortage of portable water infrastructure development in public institutions such as schools, health centres, Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) and road networks.
Concurring with Sub Traditional Authority Nkapita, Dorothy M’biza who represented the Youths, said the youths of the area are not benefiting from governments programs.
She said most of the job opportunities which could have been benefiting them are grabbed and favour people who are posted to work there and their relatives.
She added that the area has no tertiary learning institution making it difficult for the underprivileged young people to access tertiary education or ICT services.
The district commissioner for Zomba Dr Smart Gwedemula had a talk with the chiefs who represented Chingale communities in the council Chamber.
During the meeting, Gwedemula assured them that the council will sit down and look at the concerns which are bordering at several sectors.
He promised to address some of their concerns when funds are available.
He also said the council will link up with partners to start implementing their projects in the area.
“We will get back to the drawing table and see how many partners implementing activities in this area.
“For your own information, from today the council will not be dictated by partners on areas to implement their projects,” said Gwedemula.
But some chiefs expressed dissatisfaction with the response from Gwedemula.
However, they promised to wait patiently and see how the council will address their concerns.
The concerned citizens expect the petition to reach Minister of Local Government as soon as possible and receive the feedback within two months.
They also expressed optimism that their petition will be delivered to the President Lazarus Chakwera and that their proposal will be considered positively.
According to the chiefs, if they will not receive feedback on their concerns, they will ask for a permission from the district commissioners to meet Chakwera.
Chingale area has two constituencies namely Chingale and Lisanjala with a total population of over 80, 000 people.