SANFROSSA MANYINDA writes
Today, the Sun features long serving Mazabuka Member of Parliament Gary Nkombo, who shares his experiences of growing up in the village and toughening it.
Born on the March 1, 1965 in Mazabuka, Southern Province, in a family of 13 and coming from the background of a royal family, he was exposed to village life as well as different people from all walks of life.
Gary Chilala Nkombo grew up understanding village life. It is from this background that he went back to his old life, leaving city life to go and enjoy fresh air in a typical village setting north of Kafue, about 32 kilometres south of Lusaka.
Mr Nkombo is now a “single orphan” but happily married to one wife with whom he has three children, Ubinga Nkombo, 28, including Nachilala Nkombo, a lawyer who was recently admitted to the bar at the High Court of Zambia, and Munachande Nkombo, 20, who is still studying at a University in South Africa.
Besides being an MP he is also a crop and livestock farmer.
The Sun: Tell us about your education and professional background
Nkombo: I am a historian, a trainer and a teacher of English. My father threw me into the deep end to deal with people very early in my life, and he insisted on making me a teacher.
I attended school at Mpatamato [Luanshya] and Munali Boys [Lusaka] schools. I was enrolled at the University of Zambia in 1994 where I also met my wife.
My dad wanted me to be a teacher just like him. I graduated in 1998. I got my first job in the government at the National Archives under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
I do some farming, have built some properties in Lusaka as a business we live on, and as you know I am a public servant who works for the people of Mazabuka Central and Zambia in extension.
The Sun: Your political life; when did you join politics?
Nkombo: Well, I got into politics in 1999 soon after the death of Bennie Wycliffe Mwiinga, who was member of Parliament and died mid-1999. I was identified to attempt and replace him.
A by-election was called and I was one among the eight candidates in the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) and I was fortunately adopted to contest on the party’s ticket.
Unfortunately, my bid failed because the United Party for National Development (UPND) got their first MP through that election, Mr Griffiths Nang’omba.
I remained active in the MMD and when we were going towards the 2001 elections, you may be aware that President Fredrick Chiluba then wanted to go for a third term bid and that saw the MMD breaking apart.
And some people in MMD decided to form FDD headed by General Christon Tembo, who was elected at the convention at Mulungushi as party president.
I was one of those who left the party [MMD] on account of my refusal for Mr Chiluba to go against the constitution to go for the third term bid.
And again I recontested my position as MP in Mazabuka. Unfortunately, the bid failed again.
That’s when the late UPND President Mr, Anderson Mazoka, came where I used to live and asked me to join his party, and I willingly joined.
I started helping the party in Mazabuka and basically took all my support back to the UPND. And don’t forget; I came from the UPND, FDD and then UPND.
Unfortunately, we lost Mazoka in 2006. I had applied to run on the UPND ticket in 2006.
Now arising from events of replacing Mr Mazoka at the convention that’s when we saw Mr Hakainde Hichilema winning as the new party president beating his closest rival, Mr Sakwiba Sikota.
We saw that many people from Western Province decided to leave the UPND. That included the MP for Mazabuka Central, who had lost, although Mr Hichilema wanted him to be the MP on grounds that he had not served enough and he wanted to demonstrate that he was willing to work with Lozis.
So he prevailed on me and asked me to pave way to Mr Nang’omba and called him and assured him that I would not contest in that seat in order to allow him to run. He also called me and I obliged. On the day for interviews for Southern Province in Monze, it came to light that Mr Nang’omba did not heed to the offer and decided he was going to go along with Mr Sikota and did not go for the interview. Mr Hichilema then asked me to get ready and get interviewed. I, fortunately, again emerged the adopted candidate and that was how I saw the corridors of Parliament.
I have been MP since then and my understanding of a member of parliament is that I have a three-tier responsibility which is to legislate, to provide checks and balances and finally to represent not only the people of Mazabuka Central but the people of Zambia as a whole.
I have served as the party’s whip for seven years for my party and most recently, I was pointed chairman of elections in my party, which is a very involving assignment and I opted to let go of the chief whip position so I could concentrate on the party.
You may wish to understand that I have also served on various committees in Parliament.
The Sun: What are some of your achievements as an MP?
Nkombo: I cannot ring my own bell in stating what kind of an MP I have been. It is up to the people to judge.
When we sit in that collective house, we are bound as one to ensure that we do not have a government that does not develop the country based on partisan lines.
What are your political aspirations?
Well, that is a matter that should be left in God’s hands. In as far as I am concerned, I did not know I was going to be an MP.
And when I became MP I did not know the kind of MP I was going to be because there will be people who will appreciate me while others will not. But all the same life goes on.
I do not think that a political career can end just like this, but as I said earlier God’s time is the best. For now my main aspiration is to see my political party get into government.
The issue of me becoming minister, president or anything is a preserve of the appointing authority, and it is only to that point that if you are exhorted you can then say well, my dream has come true.
And so, my ambition is as far as God can take me. If this is the sealing then so be it, if I can excel to greater heights, so be it.