Kyapalushi Kapatamoyo Sikwila is one of the young African women doing the continent proud. A popular grassroots politician in Zambia, Kyapalushi is the only female councillor and the youngest for Solwezi Municipal Council in the North Western part of Zambia. She is a member of United Party for National Development (UPND). Her Province has one of the largest mining activities in Africa. The politician is also the Chairperson of Planning Committee and National Representative for the province on the Alliance for Mayors and Municipal leaders Community Action against HIV/AIDS at Local Level (AMICAALL) The social worker turned politician has over 13 years with NGO sector. She was last awarded the Mandela Washington Fellowship 2017 and was placed at the Presidential Precinct in Charlottesville Virginia
Kyapalushi in an interview with Sunday Oyinloye, Publisher Green Savannah Diplomatic Cable says her determination is stronger now that she is participating in politics.
Would you like to talk about your background , how was your growing up like?
My growing up is made up of fond memories of my father. I lost my father at the age of 8 and had to learn to live without him. My mother took up both the role of father as well as mother and grandma cemented my childhood. The death of my father was the beginning of a different life for me and I soon realised that life was very fragile and looking at my little sister, I quickly realised that I had to be brave to survive.
You were involved in Civil Society activities for 13 years before venturing into politics, would you like to share your experiences of those years?
My experience was interesting, it gave me an opportunity to work most importantly with the community, development actors, media, politicians as well as participate in developing government policies.
Why did you leave Civil Society activities for politics and how are you combining your consultancy services with politics and the home front being a mother?
Tough, each day is a challenge to balance the different tasks , sometimes I feel like changing into another role as easily as a chameleon .However, I love doing what am doing . Without doubt I was born to do this and have made it a point to ensure that when I do have time , I do what I love with all my heart be it politics, my business or being a mother. My passion is to change the narrative of African Politics and make is fashionable for young women to influence politics at every level. Yes , it is time for African young women to be bold and brave. For a long time, we have beaten drums and danced for male candidates, but now is our time to beat drums and dance for each other, build each other, cheer each other and hold each other’s hands.
You are the only female and the youngest of all the Councillors in Solwezi district of North Western of Province in Zambia, what challenges does this pose to you bearing in mind that your ward is the largest in terms of population?
I take the challenges as an opportunity. The expectations of the people are high and that literally keeps me on my toes.
What is it like being in opposition in Zambia?
Things are tougher now in my view than ever before. As an opposition leader, not all media houses will cover you in an event that you have and in some cases police will not approve meetings on time.
You come from a province that has one of the largest mining activities in Africa, what are you doing in your personal capacity and a politician to ensure the safety of the workers and the environment?
In my individual capacity I have managed to collaborate with several NGOs through radio sensitizations and life skills training workshop. I am board vice chairperson for an environment organisation known as Green Education Foundation for Zambia. This position allows me to contribute to mining related issues concerning the environment across the whole province.
Would you want to mention challenges of your province and how are you addressing them as an elected leader?
Poor infrastructures and lack of access to clean and safe water. As a Councillor, my role is primarily to facilitate development in these areas
What is your perception of African politics?
In my view, the ideologies of African political parties are not so different. What we need to strengthen are institutions governing our countries. This will ensure that we have checks and balances regardless of which party is in power. This we have to do if we must end corruption.