Chikwawa residents complain of being sidelined

People from two villages in Chikwawa, which are surrounded by Shire River and can only be reached using canoe, have complained that candidates in the November 10 by-elections are yet to visit the area.

The communities are under Group Village Headman (GVH) Mazongoza and Group Village Headman(GVH) Champhanda in Traditional Authority (TA) Makhwira which is part of Makhwira South ward where Malawi Electoral Commission will hold by-elections on November 10.

Duwa during a visit to the area

The two villages are surrounded by the Shire River in Traditional Authority(TA) Makhwira and form part of Mazongoza and Chikuse islands which is prone to floods annually and its accessibility is only by use of a canoe.

Principal Group Village Headman (GVH) Mazongoza whose real name is Stanford Mozalande said apart from being sidelined in the ongoing campaign, the area is also neglected in terms of development as it has no crucial social infrastructures like a Health Center, Police station, schools and clean water supply.

He made the complaint on Wednesday during an interview following MEC commissioner Steven Duwa’s visit to the Island earlier on Monday to mobilise people in the area to take part in the forthcoming by elections.

Mazongoza said that most political party candidates including independents only visit the area when it is just few days before the elections and they never visit the area again to fulfil their campaign promises.

Group Mazongoza added that as most people on the Island are not reached out with the campaign messages, it affects their turnout during elections.

He said: “Our area is the most neglected in Chikwawa in terms of development. We use the Shire River as our source of water. We ferry our pregnant women on bicycles to give birth at St Mathews Mission hospital or Ngabu rural hospital which is a distance of 20 to 30 kilometres from the Island.

“Our leaders don’t visit us. They only come few days before the closure of the campaign period during an election and they never come again after being voted for to fulfil their campaign promises. We feel like it is no longer important to take part in elections again”.

Headteacher for Mazongoza primary school John Chiwaya also corroborated GVH Mazongoza’s sentiments when Commissioner Duwa engaged teachers and pupils for the school for them to pass the election massage to their homes.

Chiwaya said the only primary    school on the Island has no teachers’ houses forcing them to operate from Nchalo township.

Candidates competing for Makhwira South ward include Henry Tambu of DPP,  Lenita Osten of MCP, Fransisca Nyangulu of UTM, Isaaik Odges of UDF and Mary Lennison Independent.

None of the candidates has visited the area with all of them intensifying their campaign in the Trading Centres of Livunzu, Mitondo and Masenjere along the Thabwa, Livunzu Fatima east bank road.

However, Member of Parliament for the area Rodreck Khumbanyiwa has dismissed assertions that the islands of Mazongoza and Chikuse are most lagging in terms of development saying if anything people in the area are also supposed to be in the forefront initiating several development project through their Area Development Committees (ADCs).

But Khumbanyiwa admitted that the area has no Health facility and disclosed disclosing that he intends to procure tricycles to be used in ferrying pregnant women to the nearby hospital of St Mathews and Ngabu.

In his remarks, Commissioner Steve Duwa said it is important for all contestants in the forthcoming by elections to patronize all places with their campaign messages.

Commissioner Duwa has been engaging with Traditional leaders, Religious leaders and schools in the Lower Shire district of Chikwawa to lobby them to take part in the forthcoming by elections.

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