By CHILA NAMAIKO –
CHOMA residents have called on Government to rehabilitate and turn the site where first Republican President Kenneth Kaunda signed the Choma Declaration of 1973, into a tourist attraction centre.
The site, which currently has two remaining concrete pillars on the verge of collapsing, is located adjacent to the main market of Shampande, one of the oldest and densely populated townships in Choma.
Dr Kaunda, on June 27, 1973, signed the Choma Declaration which gave birth to a one party-state through the former regime, United National Independence Party (UNIP).
During that period, Choma now the provincial capital of Southern Province was the major political centre of the African National Congress (ANC), a political party led by late Harry Nkumbula.
Mr Nkumbula, on the said date accepted the new political system of Dr Kaunda and by the Choma Declaration, it meant that the former ANC leader and his followers joined UNIP.
The residents of Choma now want Government and other stakeholders to upgrade the historical site and turn it into a thriving tourist attraction centre.
Speaking in separate interviews yesterday, Osborn Mweene, 75, who has lived in Shampande Township for over 20 years, was saddened with the current poor state of the site.
“It’s an honour for our township to have this site but it pains me to see it collapsing due to lack of care by relevant authorities who should have maintained it as a tourist attraction centre,” he said.
Mr Mweene said the struggle for Zambia’s political stability had come a long way and the Choma Declaration building, could have been utilised as one of the country’s splendid historical sites.
Another local resident Joseph Malambo said if the site was upgraded, it could have accorded an opportunity for young generations like pupils to appreciate Zambia’s rich political background.
Other residents proposed that after the Government upgrades the site, sculptures of Dr Kaunda, Mr Nkumbula and other veteran politicians should be erected as a way of remembering their political roles.
Local Government and Housing Permanent Secretary Howard Sikwela and Choma District Commissioner Bernadette Hamweemba recently inspected the site and called for its preservation.
Reverend Sikwela said there was need to engage relevant authorities to rehabilitate the site which gave good memories of Dr Kaunda’s political works including other veteran politicians.
Ms Hamweemba, however, assured that she would dialogue with the local authority and other institutions to explore ways of upgrading the site.