Government Parliamentary Chief Whip Brian Mundubile says there is nothing sinister about the delivery of ambulances to the newly-constructed hospital in Chilubi Island in the midst of the ongoing by-election campaign because government must continue functioning.
And Mundubile says the ruling Patriotic Front is assured of victory in next month’s Chilubi Island parliamentary by-election owing to the massive development that has taken place in the constituency in the last eight years.
In an interview, Mundubile said there was nothing unusual about delivering the transport equipment to the soon-to-be commissioned hospital, cautioning political opponents on the need to understand that government does not cease to function because of an election in the area.
“Of course, because of the pressure in campaigns, there are a number of stories. When people have seen ambulances being delivered to the island, they want to say, ‘this is because of the elections.’ But why haven’t they asked about the brand new hospital that has been constructed there? Ambulances are equipment; they are part of the hospital. So, if you have built an office and you are transporting furniture and maybe you are doing so at a time when there are by-elections, you can’t talk about the two in isolation? There is a brand new hospital that needs equipment, including ambulances. I can speak on this subject very confidently because when I served as Provincial Minister for Northern Province, I had received a request from Chilubi through the District Commissioner’s office. They requested for ambulances, both for the island, the swamps and the mainland. They needed water ambulances to the swamps and they needed, of course, vehicle ambulances on the mainland. Chilubi is divided into three; you have swamps, the island and the mainland, and it’s not one island by the way, there are 12 islands that make up Chilubi,” Mundubile explained.
“The main island, yes, is big enough for vehicles to move around, but for the other smaller islands, we need boats. So, the two water ambulances were delivered between 2017 and 2018, what was remaining was an ambulance or two at the island and two ambulances at the mainland. So, clearly, I wanted to just clarify on maybe the timing because the hospital at the island is not even commissioned yet, it’s a brand new hospital. A nursing school has been opened there, so we are expecting the official opening of that hospital soon and we’ve been busy equipping it. So, there is nothing sinister, there is nothing unusual about delivering equipment. At the same time, of course, it must be known to politicians that government does not cease to function just because there is an election. You won’t stop feeding people in an area to say ‘if we are seen taking mealie-meal, people will think we are buying voters,’ can you imagine if we didn’t, can’t people die? So, as government, we will remain responsible and do our part.”
When asked what the PF’s chances were in Chilubi, Mundubile said victory was certain for the ruling party owing to the massive development the party had taken to the people on the island.
“Our chances are extremely high. As a matter of fact, victory is certain for a very simple reason – you see, Chilubi is a remote area that has faced numerous difficulties since independence. People struggled to go to Chilubi by water, they struggled to go to Chilubi by road, it was a difficult place to access. Accessing medical facilities, education facilities, power, communication… everything was just not there. Now, if you look at the past eight years that PF has been in power, the transformation on Chilubi [is] phenomenal because now, for instance, whereas you could move for 13 hours and sometimes sleep on water on this big Post Boat, which only moved so many times a week, we have two boats now. One is a 120 seater water bus that will move for two hours in comfort, playing music and watching TV. And remember, we are a pro-poor government, we don’t just put such facilities where the rich are, we try to reduce the developmental inequalities and enhance the quality of life of those people living in poverty-stricken areas. So, if people on the Kariba Dam and so on can be on a boat that has these facilities, as a pro-poor government, we have taken a similar boat to Chilubi so that people of Chilubi can travel in comfort,” he explained.
“Besides that boat, there is equally another one; it takes about an hour or 40 minutes to get there. So, on water transport alone, the PF has scored highly as regards Chilubi. In terms of communication, there were numerous challenges because of absence of communication towers. So, both on the island and the mainland, we have erected a number of communication towers. In terms of communication, I can just pick up the phone as campaign manager and I will know what is going on the other side. And the elephant in the room for the people of Chilubi has been the Luwingu–Nsombo–Chaba–Chilubi road. Of course, there has been no road to talk about, this is a distance of less than 200 kilometers and you are going to drive on that road with a good 4X4 for over seven hours, any other vehicle it’s 10 hours. You travel the whole day on a 100Km metre stretch. The MP, honuorable (late) Rosaria Fundanga, was very passionate about this road, it’s very sad that when the contractors have moved on-site, she has not been able to see the commencement of works on this particular road, but we know that her people are very excited that this actually happened and it has started.”
Further, Mundubile, who the PF’s campaign manager alongside Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya, pledged that the ruling party would ensure violence-free elections in Chilubi.
“The campaigns in Chilubi are going on very well. We expect to have peaceful campaigns because we have it on record that in Northern Province, all our campaigns have been peaceful. We believe in issue-based campaigns, so both myself as campaign manager and my co-campaign manager honourable [Chitalu] Chilufya will see to it that we provide leadership to have issue-based campaigns, to have violence-free campaigns. And we would like to urge our colleagues that are coming, especially the UPND, to just be civil as they are campaigning. The language should be that of respect, respecting each other’s views and respecting each other’s cultures as it were. We know that it hasn’t been the same. It was not the same in Mangango, it was not the same in Sesheke…,” said Mundubile.