Three political parties namely; the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), the opposition UPND and National Democratic Congress (NDC) have so far declared interest in participating in the Mangango parliamentary by-elections slated for November 20, 2018.

But the National Restoration Party (NAREP) and People’s Alliance for Change (PAC) have opted to stay away from by-elections, saying they are better off spending their energies and resources on strengthening the parties ahead of the 2021 general elections.

Meanwhile, the United Prosperous and Peaceful Zambia (UPPZ) says it is also likely to participate in the Mangongo by-election which has been necessitated following the death of it’s occupant Naluwa Mweene.

Mweene died in a road traffic accident at the Itezhi Tezhi turn off along the Mongu-Lusaka road in August.

In random interviews conducted by News Diggers! following the announcement of election dates for the Mangango Parliamentary seat, Chairperson’s by-elections in Lupososhi and four other ward by-elections, the PF through it’s Deputy Secretary General Mumbi Phiri confirmed interest to participate in all the three by-elections.

“Oh yes definitely! And you can’t even ask me such a question because Lupososhi is our stronghold. We will definitely take part in that by-election but since the notice has just come out and you know us as PF, we don’t make decisions as individuals, we have to take that to the central committee and then we will agree. I will just encourage people in our party… and you know we lost that seat narrowly and now I expect that we are actually going to get it. Since it has come out we are going to advertise. We are not going to lose that seat this time around and just like I said, we narrowly lost that seat. Even before we had a member of parliament from there, if you remember very well,” said Phiri.

And UPND Secretary General Stephen Katuka expressed confidence that his party was going to scoop the Mangango parliamentary seat because that area was its stronghold.

“How can we not participate in Mangango? That was our seat, that’s common sense. There is no way we cannot participate because we are defending our seat. If we had proper systems they were just going to tell us that ‘you replace the MP’ and we have been trying to change the law to avoid by-elections because we feel there is a lacuna there, we missed out something because in the NCC we were even proposing that when a member of parliament dies, the party should replace. We made those proposals at the NCC. So now coming to your question, it’s not possible for us to fail to participate because that is our seat, at any cost we have to participate and defend our seat. Win or lose but we are participating without fail,” said Katuka.

“So now that the date for elections has been announced, we are starting the selection process and by the end of this week or next week we will have a candidate ready. This time we are being very cautious because we are dealing with rocks and we know anything can happen, so we will have some people on standby so that if the PF buys one, we can still replace them. Mangango is our seat and we will do everything possible to reclaim our seat. So if PF feel Mangongo is their seat then they are living in the past. The people of Mangango will replace the late MP with our MP because they still have the confidence in us and that lace is our stronghold and when an election comes, we are going to work tooth and nail to reclaim it.”

Secretary general Mwenya Musenge of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) said he was optimistic that his party would emerge victorious in the by-election.

“We are definitely going to participate, we have received good response from a number of our members how would want to participate. Right now we are going through a process of trying to scrutinize and then pick a candidate. I must be quick to mention that this time around, we won’t be able to announce the names our candidate because we are trying to avoid this cheap way of playing politics by PF who always want to buy off candidates of their opponents. We already have three candidates so far and we are just finalizing on who to pick but all of them are very very eager to participate and I can assure you we will be able to compete effectively in Mangango and Zambian people will be able to see that NDC means well for the people of Zambia. And we have a huge feeling that we will lift the [Mangango] Parliamentary seat, we are participating in the parliamentary by-elections for the first time and we just have to in our very best. As for the Lupososhi Chairmanship, Lupososhi if anything is one of those areas we treat as our strongholds and we are going to take part in the Council Chairmanship elections. Right now our officials in Northern Province are on the ground to try and identify the best candidate,” said Musenge.

And when contacted, UPPZ Spokesperson Francis Kope said “ We will be participating but I cannot give an official statement at the moment, we need to sit as a party and agree who will be our candidate.”

Meanwhile, PAC through party president Andyford Banda said his party had resolved to stop participating in parliamentary by-elections because it wanted to focus on strengthening its structures countrywide ahead of 2021.

“For Mangango, we met last weekend to discuss the statement from ECZ and the decision of the party was that we shall skip. Reason is that we want to focus more building the party countrywide as opposed to just focusing on by-elections because we’ve participated in a number of by-elections and they have gotten our resources first of all. We are not PF who get government money or social cash transfer. Us we use money from well wishers and we’ve noticed that we’ve been spending so much money… instead of mobilising, we’ve been spending money on by-elections. So what we have decided is that strategically right now we are going to move to North Western Province. So instead of participating in the parliamentary by-elections, we are going to participate in the local government by-elections in North Western Province. Our strategy for the last part of the year is to cement our structures on the Copperbelt. So it will be easy for us to participate in an election in North Western while we are cementing our structures in Copperbelt and we are spreading our wings across the country. This will also give us an opportunity to give the UPND a chance to retain their seat. I think it will be good for them,” said Banda.

And NAREP president Elias Chipimo said his party had also opted out of participating in by-elections.

“Probably not , at this stage, we really want to direct our focus on 2021. However, it’s going to be for the National Executive Committee to make that determination. So I don’t want to pre empt what decision they will make. But they should be announcing soon what out position will be. The NEC is reviewing the party’s position and we will be able to revert within the next two days,” said Chipimo.