VITALIS Moonga Mooya says freedom fighter Mainza Chona deserves to be honoured at national level, not at district level.
Meanwhile, Mooya, a former Moomba member of parliament, stresses that proposing to halve Monze district into east and west is catalytic of dividing people.
He also thanks the people of Moomba Constituency in Monze district for electing him as their member of parliament from December 2001 to May 2016.
“I thank them for working with me from December 2001 up to May 2016 as their MP,” Mooya said in an interview.
Chona served as the Republican vice-president and later as a prime minister in the 1970s.
He died, aged 71, in Johannesburg, South Africa on December 11, 2001.
Last Saturday, The Mast reported that the chiefdoms of Chona, Mwanza and Ufwenuka in Monze district have petitioned the government to honour Chona’s role in the independence struggle by creating a new district in his name.
Handing over the petition to the government at a meeting held at the site of Chona’s grave in Monze east, steering committee chairperson for the three chiefdoms, Ngambela Emmanuel Kalulu, described Chona as a selfless man whose works deserved recognition.
“Let Mainza Chona be honoured because he was a selfless man. Every man is rewarded according to his deeds. We have seen Daniel Munkombwe Toll Plaza and Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula [International] Airport,” Ngambela Kalulu said.
“But what about Mainza Chona? It is for this reason that we are petitioning government to create east of Monze covered by three chiefdoms as Mainza Chona district.”
Ngambela Kalulu urged residents of the three chiefdoms to fight for the creation of Mainza Chona district.
“If petitioning government to recognise the late Mainza Chona’s immense support towards the independence struggle means to be killed, then we are ready for it,” vowed Ngambela Kalulu.
Chief Chona said Chona was a lawyer who contributed immensely to Zambia’s independence.
“He led UNIP and handed it to Kenneth Kaunda and surely such a good-hearted man with love for others who could have been a president himself but thought of giving his authority to Kaunda….Why not recognise such a man by creating a new district that will be named after him?” asked Chona.
Chief Mwanza, on his part, noted that it was difficult for the three chiefdoms, east of Monze, to get a fair share of development under the current situation, owing to distance to the district centre.
“We know that the poor road network will be a thing of the past if we have our own district here. It will also open up other economic aspects that will enhance wealth creation,” said Mwanza.
Southern Province deputy permanent secretary Kennedy Mubanga, who received the petition, said he would deliver the message to his superiors.
“The spirit of Mainza Chona will not rest until your call for the creation of Mainza Chona district is heard by President Edgar Lungu…” said Mubanga.
Reacting to the matter, Mooya said the proposal to create Mainza Chona district involved two vital issues – the creation of a new district and the name.
He emphasised that the proposal was very serious.
“You can’t treat this one with kid gloves, especially now. Timing is very important! If these people were enlightened, they wouldn’t have started this because it can end up dividing the people, especially those of Monze district,” Mooya said in an interview in Lusaka.
Monze district has six chiefs; three to the east and another three in the western part.
Chiefs Chona, Mwanza and Ufwenuka are in the east while chiefs Monze, Choongo and Hamusonde are in the west.
Over the proposed name of the ‘new’ district and the creation itself, Mooya said he had consulted a number of progressive people over the matter.
“I have been researching and contacting people, for close to a week now [from the time the article was published]. We speak the same language with those who are enlightened,” he said.
“The idea of honouring Mainza Chona is welcome. [But] to name a district after him is demeaning him. That’s lowering his status; that man was a pan-Africanist. He was rubbing shoulders with the Kaundas, Nkrumahs.”
Mooya indicated that Chona was a giant, not only in Zambia and the SADC region, but in Africa.
“He was the first president of UNIP and then he handed over to KK (Kenneth Kaunda). Now, how do you honour him with a district? No! That’s demeaning him. The history of Zambia cannot be complete without the name of Mainza Chona,” he explained.
“Let them find something at national level [to honour him with]. I have no doubt that President [Edgar] Lungu will take it up. But not at district level. No! No! No!”
Mooya, a civil engineer, pointed out that there were numerous hurdles in wanting to have a breakaway district.
“They say the devil is in the detail. We need consensus. Where will the money [for infrastructure] come from? You know there are a lot of stalled projects now [and] Chikankata is an example. There is no money!” he said.
“You don’t just put development anyhow; there are procedures. There have to be feasibility studies and people must have a say.”
About the boundaries of the perceived Mainza Chona district, Mooya wondered how a ‘small’ district like Monze could be halved.
“Monze, for your own information, up to early 1970s, was under Mazabuka district. A lot of money has been put to build Monze district from 1972 – it’s almost 50 years. The people from chiefs Ufwenuka, Chona and Mwanza are used belonging to Monze district,” Mooya explained.
“If you create another breakaway district, any guarantee that…. I feel it can be a white elephant. People are used and it’s not very far [to Monze district centre]. Others who are about 100 kilometres from the boma, it’s understandable [for them to agitate for a new district]. Not in Moomba where the furthest distance to Monze district centre is about 80 kilometres. I was the MP there!”
He asked: “where will the boundary be?”
“We’ll just divide the people. What I’m saying is that the devil is in the detail. What will the other three chiefs and the people themselves west of Monze say? We are supposed to be uniting,” he noted.
“During independence a lot of people shed blood there (in Monze) and I was 15 years old that time and I remember a bit.”
Mooya noted that the government had heard the petition for Mainza Chona district but advised that the matter must be handled with extreme tact.
“I’m speaking as a development man – a civil engineer and not as a politician. I don’t want to be misunderstood,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mooya wished Dr Kenneth Kaunda a happy belated birthday.
Dr Kaunda turned 96 on April 28 this year.
“Happy birthday to KK and long live! I was with KK’s children, Colonel Panji and Dr Waza ku (at) Canisius in the late 1960s. I wish longer life to KK!” said Mooya.