Police say a report of a scuffle between PF and UPND rivals was received as voters in Chilanga District were voting in yesterday’s parliamentary by-election.
In a statement, Zambia Police spokesperson, Esther Mwaata Katongo, stated that people who were going to vote at a School in Kalundu area were ambushed by some suspected UPND cadres camping in the area and were beating them up.
“We received a report that people who were going to vote at a School in Kalundu area were being waylaid by some suspected UPND cadres camping in the area and were beating them up. They are also reported to have gone to the PF camp and damaged some motor vehicles belonging to PF supporters and one person was injured and rushed to Kanyama first level hospital, later referred to UTH due to head injuries,” Katongo stated in a press release issued yesterday.
“Officers have been deployed to the area and order has been restored. Investigations have been instituted to bring to book perpetrators. In Mundawanga, some UPND and PF officials are reported to have imported cadres to the area which resulted in commotion. However, sanity has been restored.”
She further urged all political players to keep the peace and avoid acts that may bring confusion during the remaining period of the Chilanga by-elections.
And Anti-Voter Apathy (AVAP) executive director Richwell Mulwani described the fracas in Mundawanga area of Chilanga District as being caused by UPND supporters who attempted to prevent their PF counterparts from voting in yesterday’s by-election.
In an interview, Mulwani told News Diggers! that the confusion started when UPND cadres allegedly roughed up a PF member as she was attempting to cast her ballot paper at the polling station.
“At Mundawanga there was a fracas, there was confusion where the UPND and the PF were exchanging bitter words because it was alleged that the UPND had roughed up a PF member as she was trying to come to the polling station to go and vote. It was reported at the police and the police moved in to correct the situation. However, again, Honourable Jean Kapata and Mr Chuumbwe arrived at the place where they demanded that the UPND party agents must be removed from the polling station. And the UPND refused to say, ‘there is no way the party agents can be removed from the polling station because I am monitoring and even us as monitors we cannot support that the party agents be removed from the polling station because there is no law that provides for that.’ The only person that has got powers to remove as party agent from the polling station is the presiding officer and that is actually according to the electoral regulation. So, therefore we want to appeal to political parties participating in this election to observe the electoral code of conduct,” Mulwani said yesterday.
“And when we were also at Musamba [grounds], we found out that there were some people that were closer to the polling station and standing idle, which is against the Electoral Code of Conduct and the Public Order Act. Therefore, the police were advised to disperse those people that were standing because that is not allowed. When people vote they have to go home.”
Mulwani also bemoaned the low voter turnout during Tuesday’s polls.
“And on top of that, there is a lot of voter apathy that we have seen. For example, at the same Musamba, we are talking about only 161 people had voted out of 882 voters. So, that is serious voter apathy. It’s the same at Mount Makulu where only about 150 had voted out of 912 registered voters. So, you can see that I think a lot needs to be done for us to help the situation in terms of addressing voter apathy. And some of the issues that we feel must be addressed is how a vote is translated into the situation of the people in terms of development because, surely, in Mundawanga, we have gone round and there are no roads. There is nothing. So, people have challenges with how to move, there are no mini buses in Mundawanga to connect from one point to another. So, to us, as AVAP, we feel that that is a very serious cause of voter apathy because this has been the cry of the people of Zambia because people vote but at the end of the day, nothing happens to guarantee them their vote,” lamented Mulwani.
“So, I think we should change the way we do things in our country because people should see the value of voting. They must be able to count to say ‘my vote has worked.’ Right now, voters are not inspired at all because they feel that an election is a burden because the voters themselves are even indicating that they don’t see what they are voting for. And this is why as AVAP we demanded that we must have a recall clause in the Constitution or in the Electoral Process Act where if someone is voted into power, the citizens must have power to recall back that member of parliament especially these that are non-performing so that they can question him or her and that member of parliament must be able to answer questions from the citizens. But now, there is no law that compels non-performing members of parliament or councillors to go back to the people that put them to power.”
He further appealed for harmony among all parties following the announcement of the eventual winner of the poll.
“So, what we expect from this election is that the winner should be able to congratulate the loser and the loser should be able to congratulate the winner. We expect harmony in the way the election is handled here.”
But when reached for comment, UPND secretary general, Steven Katuka, expressed ignorance over the scuffle in Mundawanga.
“I haven’t received any report, I only received how one of our members was being pampered by the PF. And why would they demand for our polling agents to be withdrawn when the poling agents cannot go and block other people from voting? As for me I haven’t [heard] any report of that nature so I will ask around,” Katuka said in a separate interview by press time.