Thursday, 16 March 2017

Nathan Chanda: From A Street Vendor To Luanshya Mayor

Nathan Chanda during his installation in September 2016
By Paul Shalala in Luanshya

He holds the record of being the youngest Mayor ever elected in Zambia. 

In 2011, he was aged 26 when Councilors in the mining town of Luanshya elected him Mayor. 

He served in that position for two and half years until his term expired.

And this young Mayor is popularly known as Nathan Chanda, though these names are his first and middle names.

Actually, Nathan’s surname is Bwalya.

But in the political world, people refer to him as Mr. Chanda instead of Mr. Bwalya.

However, this does not bother him.

He uses Nathan Chanda even on his campaign posters during elections.

But who is Nathan Chanda?

"Nathan Chanda is the last born of Mr and Mrs Bwalya. I was born on 5th February 1985 at Roan General Hospital. I did my pre-school at Bwafwano Community School. Then i did my Grade one to seven at Makoma Basic School, then i went to Chaisa Middle Basic School for Junior Secondary and completed my Secondary education at Roan Antelope High School," said Nathan in an interview at his residence.

He later studied for a Bachelor in Development Studies at the Zambia Open University.

His life is one that inspires many.

He did not have a privileged upbringing but he fought his way to the top.

In the year 2001 when his father was retrenched from the mines, he received K300 kwacha from his parent’s terminal benefits and decided to hit the streets to sell airtime.

Actually, his older siblings got more money from their father.

The eldest was allocated K500 while the second one went away with K400.

From being a street vendor, he developed himself to a level where he has become an entrepreneur who currently owns a shopping mall within Luanshya.
Nathan with President Edgar Lungu in Ndola

"I started a booth in Roan and later i moved into town where i was selling talk time as an agent of mobile phone providers. I later graduated into renting a shop. From there i decided to build my own shopping mall where we have 15 shops which are on lease," he said.

Apart from business, Nathan is a politician.

He says due to his height, people used to nickname him as FTJ in reference to Zambia’s second President the late Frederick Chiluba who was also short.

He joined the Patriotic Front (PF) in 2003 and because of his young age, he struggled to make it through the ranks for elected office.

"In 2010 when we had a by-election where i stay, i expressed interest to stand but i wasn't given an opportunity for so many reasons. One of them is that i was young, i was not married, people talked of so many things. But when Mr Adam Zulu was adopted, we went flat out to campaign and he won."

In the Patriotic Front, Nathan is currently serving as the Copperbelt Province Youth Chairperson.

He has held this position since 2011 and before that; he served at different levels of the ruling party.

Nathan started as a Ward Information and Publicity Secretary, later becoming Roan Constituency Vice Secretary and in 2008, he was elected PF Luanshya District Youth Chairman.

The following year he was elevated to Provincial Vice Treasurer before becoming full Treasurer a year later.

He held the Treasurer position until 2011 when he became Copperbelt Province Youth Chairman, a position he currently holds.

In last year’s general elections, Nathan applied for adoption to contest the Roan Constituency Parliamentary seat on the ruling party ticket.

This meant that he was challenging the then Information Minister Chishimba Kambwili who was hoping to recontest the seat for a third consecutive five year term.

The rivalry between the two contestants was so hot that intervention was sought from the Central Committee, the PF's highest leadership structure which later pacified the situation.

The Central Committee decided to remove Nathan from the parliamentary shortlist and adopted him as the Mayoral candidate for Luanshya.

He later stood and won the seat, occupying the mayoral seat for the second time.

Nathan is not just a politician and Mayor for Luanshya; he is also a family man.

He is married and has three children: Mwamba, Chanda and Kapaya.
Nathan with his wife Chisoswa and his three sons

But how does he share time between politics and family?

"I always have little time for my family. Politics eats most of my time. But i try my best to catch up and i miss my family so much. But the good part is that i'm married to the most wonderful wife in this world who understands politics very well," said Nathan.

His wife Chisoswa is so proud of her husband.

She tips him for higher positions due to his determination in life.

"Am proud, yes am proud of him because of his determination in life. He has come very far and he is one person who never gives up on his dreams. And one thing i like telling my husband is that never let anyone take you down because i know he can achieve alot because the spirit he has, he can go far," said Chisoswa.

Nathan says he has not yet reached his potential, he dreams of possibly serving this country as the Republican President.

At the age of 32, Nathan is one of the three youngest Mayors in the country.

Two other Mayors Christopher Kangombe of Kitwe and Prince Chileshe of Kabwe are also aged 32.

Nathan leads the mining town of Luanshya which he hopes to transform into a viable municipality when his current five year term expires in 2021.

At national level, Nathan is the Chairperson of the Zambian chapter of the Alliance of Mayors and Municipal Leaders Initiative for Community Action on AIDS in Africa (AMICALL).

He was first elected to that position in 2011 for a five year term and last year, he was re-elected to a second term.

At the continental level, he is the Vice President for Africa at AMICALL.

He was elected to that continental position in 2013 for a five year term which ends in 2018.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This profile was originally aired on TV1's Morning Live program on 16 March 2017 and it can be watched on this YouTube link.

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