IT IS easy to take Thomas Sipalo’s bid for the Munali Parliamentary seat in Lusaka as a joke. After all, Difikoti, as the comedian is popularly known, was recently seen campaigning for United National Independence Party (UNIP), which in the eyes of his fans seems to suit the old guard.

But make no mistake, he is serious about becoming Munali Member of Parliament (MP) and he wants his bid to be taken seriously.“My life as a politician is different from comedy,” he says. “Comedy is a talent, every person has a talent in life. I do comedy to sustain my life and I have gone into politics to serve the people of Munali because the constituency is under-developed.”

In Munali, Mr Sipalo will come up against Patrick Samwimbila (Patriotic Front – PF), Lillian Mutambo (independent), Mike Mposha (United Party for National Development – UPND) and Chimbalanga Semba (independent).“I have gone independent because I don’t want my work to be attached to any political party,” he said.

“I understand the problems the constituency faces because I have been in Munali for long.“Once I am voted in, I will make sure that I engage every community and appreciate their challenges so that I know what they want before I start any development. I don’t want to impose development on them.

”Mr Sipalo is among a plethora of figures from the entertainment and media industry who are offering themselves up for leadership in the August 12 elections.But unlike him, most of the candidates have opted to stand on party tickets.Mukubesa Mundia, otherwise known as Petersen, is standing on the Socialist Party (SP) ticket for the Kabwata parliamentary seat.

He faces competition from former Lusaka mayor Levy Mkandawire (UPND) and Daniel Yenga (PF).Mr Mukubesa received some stick for choosing to contest the Kabwata seat on the SP ticket when he had also applied to contest for Nalikwanda in Western Province under UPND.

But Mr Mukubesa said the UPND structures in Nalikwanda rejected him from inception.“I was not invited or involved in any party activities even though I was willing to participate,” he said.“I was sidelined, when it came to adoptions, I was rejected before I could apply,” he said. “I felt alone, so I was looking for a political party I can call home and family. I expected the negative reactions I’m getting from some sections of society but I’m happy and satisfied.

I have a free mind.”UPND secretary general Batuke Imenda said Mr Mukubesa has a democratic right to belong to any party of his choice.There are also a number of familiar names and faces from media who have thrown their hats in the political ring.

Former Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) staffers Ormond Musonda and Melesiana Phiri-Chibwe have been adopted by PF to contest the Kasempa and Milanzi constituencies in North-Western and Eastern Provinces, respectively.Mr Musonda faces competition from six other candidates; Dennis Mwelemuka – United National Independence Party (UNIP), Martin Lutuna – Democratic Party (DP), Micheal Mundambo (SP), Yardly Kambembe – Party for National Unity and Progress (PNU), Brenda Tambatamba (UPND) and independent candidate James Kalemba.

Mr Musonda said he has gained enough experience interacting with politicians and his decision to get into politics is premised on his desire to serve the people of Kasempa.“Of course I will not be an active journalist because of politics,” he said. “I am confident of winning the Kasempa parliamentary seat.”Another media personality in the race to Manda Hill is former Hot FM presenter Patience Chisanga who has gone back to her home town of Luanshya on the Copperbelt.“Media is something that has always been in my heart,” Ms Chisanga, who is standing on the People’s Alliance for Change (PAC) ticket, said.

“I am passionate about it, I have enjoyed it and I will continue to enjoy the power of media when it comes to bringing social change and highlighting developmental This isn’t comedyDifikoti stakes his claim for Munali seatissues.“My media career will be incorporated in my role as a Member of Parliament. I will continue using that platform for change.

I will not abandon my media career but I will now channel that tool to harmonise my new role.”Ms Chisanga’s rivals for the Luanshya seat are Botha Caroline – New Heritage Party (NHP), Stephen Chungu – independent, Kennedy Katimba – UNIP, Golden Mulenga – PF, Painet Mutuna – NDC, Margrete Sikalonzo – SP and Mundia Sinkamba – DP.

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