Zambia’s biggest opposition party, the United Party for National Development (UPND) has failed to contest a parliamentary by-election for the first time, in as many years.

And the National Democratic Congress which is practically Zambia’s third force, if Chishimba Kambwili’s popularity is anything to go by, has also failed to find a candidate after it’s selected official filed his nomination under the ruling Patriotic Front.

In a shocking turn of events the UPND’s adopted candidate Dr Faustin Banda, bolted just hours before the nomination yesterday, and the party leadership accused the “enemies of democracy” of bribing him.

Banda who is a lecturer at the University of Zambia also switched off his phones, leaving the UPND with no option but to report him to the police for obtaining money and campaign material under false pretences.

“I wish to make an announcement here concerning the happenings of the last 24 hours. Yesterday, we issued a statement on the candidate that we had adopted for the Kasanengwa constituency by-election. But I want to report now that the enemies of democracy are at it again. Just like it happened to our colleagues in the NDC, our candidate Dr Faustin Banda has disappeared after getting an adoption certificate and campaign materials for Kasanengwa constituency by-election,” UPND general secretary Stephen Katuka informed the press yesterday.

“Dr Banda was our candidate in 2016 election and we were under a wrong impression that he was a stable person. We also gave him some cash which he has disappeared with. We strongly think that the Zambian people will now understand the position of our competitors which has been characterised by price tagging on people and buying them. We are now proceeding to report Dr Banda to the police for obtaining money by false pretences.”

At the time of the press briefing the UPND was hopeful that it would find a replacement.

“Dr Banda has switched off his phone and he is nowhere to be seen. We are trying to find an alternative candidate at the 11th hour but this will depend on the people of Eastern Province to give us a candidate from there then we will file this afternoon. I believe it is our competitors who are doing that. The political environment is not conducive for certain people. That’s why for people in politics, you must be thick skinned, those with weak minds, the weaker souls cannot stand in politics that’s why we are going through this situation,” said Katuka.

News Diggers however, gathered that the UPND could not find a replacement.

“We have actually failed to file in. We had found two replacements and one was allowed to file the nomination. The adoption certificate was sent to Kasenengwa and ECZ accepted to process the nomination, but then because this candidate was yet to travel at the time, his physical signature was missing. That’s how we fell out,” a UPND source told News Diggers.

And NDC national secretary Mwenya Musenge accused the PF of buying of it’s candidate.

“The National Democratic Congress will not participate in the Kasenengwa parliamentary by-election set for next month. The party has suffered a set back after its preferred parliamentary candidate Sensio Banda was bought off by the PF,” said Musenge.

“Mr Banda has since successfully field in his nomination under the PF. Up until five days ago, Mr Banda was a bonafide member of the NDC. Mr Banda sat on the select committee of the NDC that has been tasked to draw up the party manifesto. The party is deeply disturbed by attempts by the PF to cripple the opposition in the country. This is the second time that the PF has bought off a prospective electoral candidate from the NDC.”

Only three parties managed to file their nominations, among the the PF and the People’s Alliance for change (PAC) whose candidate is John Zulu.