PF Secretary General Davies Mwila has asked the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to suspend by-elections in Southern Province’s Mwanza East ward of Monze district due to alleged violence orchestrated by the opposition UPND.
But UPND Secretary General Stephen Katuka says there is no need for ECZ to suspend elections in in that ward because political violence is not something that is new to politics.
ECZ public relations manager Magaret Chimanse, however, says the commission has not received any report of violence from that ward.
In a letter dated April 16, 2016, Mwila called on the ECZ to suspend the upcoming by-elections in Mwanza East ward citing an unconducive environment for free and fair elections in the area due to alleged electoral violence being perpetuated by the UPND.
“The Patriotic Front is saddened by the electoral violence being perpetuated by the United Party for National Development (UPND) which is going on in Monze, Mwanza East Ward by-election. The atmosphere is not conducive for free and fair elections. And if the campaigns are left to go on in such a hostile environment, then a lot of lives and property will be lost. In view of the above, we propose that elections in Mwanza East Ward be suspended until peace is restored in the area,” read Mwila’s letter.
But reacting to Mwila’s allegations in an interview, Katuta said there was only one ‘small’ incident which did not warrant cancellation of the election.
“You know that we have gone through such things before. Violence is associated with the PF. We have had so many elections where the PF have been violent and elections have never been suspended. What is special now that the elections in Mwanza should be suspended? Of course there was what I would call a small confrontation, this was just an incident for one day and it finished. I think after that incident there hasn’t been anything reported. That was just a one off incident and it cannot lead to the suspension of an election. And I saw my Provincial Chairman yesterday refuting the allegations that there is violence in Mwanza ward. So what the PF have said in their letter is not true. This is not something new and it’s not unique, it happens wherever there are two political parties. No one the electoral code of conduct does not allow you [as a political party] to go where another political party is holding a rally. So it is not necessary in my view that elections in Mwanza should be canceled,” said Katuka.
However, ECZ’s Chimanse expressed ignorance over the letter in question and any violence incidents in Mwanza ward.
“No, we have not received any such letter from the Patriotic Front structures or any other stakeholders. And we have not received any reports of violence in the wards where elections are scheduled to take place and even if there were such reports, we have committees in all the districts of the 10 provinces who are responsible for such matters,” said Chimanse.