Hakainde Hichilema has asked the people of Western Province to give UPND a chance to govern Zambia in 2021 by voting for party candidate Romeo Kang’ombe in the February 12 Sesheke parliamentary by-election.

Hichilema, the UPND party president, has also commended Kang’ombe for standing his ground and defending his dignity after PF allegedly tried to persuade him to ditch the opposition and contest on the ruling party ticket.

Speaking to journalists after Kang’ombe’s successful filing of nominations in Sesheke District, Hichilema described the nominated candidate as a reasonable young man and called on the UPND councillors, who are usually being bought by the ruling party, to emulate him.

“I want to start by congratulating the candidate for filing in his nomination successfully, against all odds. Where the brutal regime of PF started by enticing him to join them and to stand on their ticket. And the young man said no! He remained reasonable. They moved away from that and got into arm-twisting tactics, to attempt to arrest him for a crime he did not commit, but he has remained steadfast, and I congratulate him and thank him for that. That’s a lesson to many youths, the councillors, who are selling themselves like tomatoes in a market, to learn that you can be strong to retain your dignity. Secondly, I want to say thank you to the people of Western Province, and Sesheke in particular, for standing with us in the UPND against all odds,” Hichilema said.

“We have been brutalised; everything is against us, but we have remained strong. God has a reason why he has kept us on. We want to ensure that we work towards liberating the people of Zambia, nothing will stand in our way. Now that he has filed in his nomination, the next thing is for everybody to campaign. I want to encourage you to turn up on the voting day, remember that voting for Kang’ombe is voting for UPND. Everything is down in this country, nothing is okay. So, Sesheke must provide a way for us in 2021, and we will not allow anything to stand in our way because people have suffered enough.”

Hichilema also disclosed that his party had requested the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) not to allow a named returning officer to take part in handling the Sesheke by-election on accusations of electoral malpratice.

“We have made our point clear that the assistant returning officer, a guy called Manzi, I think he works in Agriculture… we are aware that he was used by PF to even rig elections in Mangango, we don’t want him here. So, we have politely told the Commission that they must remove him and formalise it, it’s in accordance with the law. So, we will not be acting outside the law, we are law-abiding citizens,” said Hichilema.

And speaking earlier, Kang’ombe bragged that the PF would not have been inciting the UPND if he was a weak candidate.

“I want to thank the UPND for adopting me, and for supporting me through this whole process. Let’s fight this cancer of corruption that the PF has brought… If I was a weak candidate, the PF wouldn’t have wanted to buy me. I stood the oppression, I stood with the party. I am someone who cannot bow down to such pressures. The only party that can liberate this country is UPND,” said Kang’ombe.

Later, Hichilema and his executive drove to Elis Park where he addressed thousands of Sesheke residents.