UPND chairperson for elections Garry Nkombo says the party is concerned that the returning officer in the Sesheke by-election had a private meeting with some State House officials last Friday.

In an interview, Nkombo said whilst the UPND was confident of winning the seat, the party was concerned about a private meeting which an Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) returning officer had with State House officials last Friday.

“The ground is extremely fertile for UPND to win the by-election in Sesheke. We are confident that come 12th of February, we will carry the day. There are, however, some few challenges in terms of the management of this by-election; there are a few named policemen, who are clearly partisan, and there are also some ECZ officials who are showing signs of partisanship. The most recent incident, which we are very much concerned about, is the returning officer in the Sesheke by-election, who had a meeting with officers from State House last week on Friday and we wonder what that meeting was all about. What we know is that returning officers are supposed to be neutral. But despite all these challenges, we are still in the comfort zone regarding the outcome of that election,” Nkombo said.

“We are not lying idle, we are doubling our efforts in doing everything possible to secure our victory next Tuesday. So, it’s not about our confidence only that would make us win; it’s about courtesy of the people of Sesheke. So far, they have shown a lot of support for UPND and adding our own efforts, without taking the peoples’ support for granted.”

Efforts to get a reaction from ECZ spokesperson Margaret Chimanse proved futile as her phone went unanswered.

And Nkombo, who is also Mazabuka Central UPND member of parliament, appealed to Zambia Police Service to identify the officer who discharged a teargas canister in Vespers Shimunzhila’s room.

“The point is that the police are incapable of carrying out investigations themselves, they are the perpetrators of that death themselves and so, we would like to render the report of findings by the Human Rights Commission supreme over any other investigations coming from other wings, especially from the police. Because the police are the ones who killed Vespers so there is really nothing to expect from the police other than for them to concede that they caused the death and our only call is that the specific officers, who caused the death of Vespers are identified. The police must help us to know who among them did that because time has now come for us to start indicting these police officers one by one as opposed to speak generally that the police have done this or that. They have a duty now to tell us which officer discharged a teargas (canister) in the room of that innocent, young girl,” said Nkombo.