Governance activist Brebner Changala says it is disheartening to see PF officials showing off their financial muscle in towns where elections are scheduled to take place when government cannot even pay civil servants.
In an interview, Changala said his experience in Kafue over the weekend, where he had gone to witness campaigns prior to the Wednesday by-elections, was not pleasing, alleging that he witnessed PF officials dishing out money to corrupt voters.
“PF has invaded that small town in a manner unprecedented. They are showing off their financial muscle and it’s really disheartening. There is money in the town I tell you, when civil servants can’t even get paid. I was their myself over the weekend…they have planted out people all over giving out PF Chitenge, within 30 minutes [of my being there], I had seven Chitenge material in my car. They are giving even to people who are not residents there… there is money. And if you see the vehicles that are there right now, they don’t belong to Kafue. They have brought in brand new Toyota Hilux and they have branded them with PF symbols. But we all know that after the elections, those vehicles will go back to Lusaka where they belong. They have just improved the economic status of Kafue in that election period and since the elections are this week, it will even be worse,” Changala said.
“And [Given] Lubinda is in the forefront of this thing as if he’s not the Minister of Justice. The picture they there is like the PF candidate is standing unopposed because even in terms of finances, the UPND candidate has been totally drowned. But this is killing our democracy. There are two things I know which are really destroying our democracy and these are corruption and buying of votes. This needs to come to light because the damage they are doing to our democracy is too much.”
Changala appealed to voters in Kafue to rise up and defend the country’s democracy.
“After visiting Kafue and seeing the level of activities that are going on prior to the elections of the council chairman, I really do appeal, I am earnestly appealing to the people of Kafue to sit up and protect Zambia’s democracy. I have seen the influx of strangers going into Kafue from Lusaka to go and convince the people to vote in a manner that will suit the PF as a political party. All of a sudden Kafue has become very active, PF has thrown in every cent that they have from the unknown source. They have brought in a lot of motor vehicle’s there to hoodwink the voters and sway the vote in their favour. My only worry is, is this how we are going to be winning elections? Through Chitenge material, through the T-shirt and the massive delivery of alcohol? Purchasing alcohol just for this period and when they get the vote they despair. I thought democracy should be a battle of ideas. Who is going to convince the voter and who is genuinely going to participate in the development of Kafue district,” said Changala.
“I am appealing to the powers that be that we are destroying our country through violence and corruption. What is happening in Kafue right now is nothing but corruption. The massive distribution of Chitenge material to dress and cloth the naked people of Kafue, the poor people of Kafue. First and foremost, government impoverishes the people of Kafue and then it takes a branded material for them to win a vote, that is heartless, it is unacceptable and a big form of corruption. I am happy this time around there is no violence but surely it is also not correct to use the money power to win an election. The happenings in Kafue is not very good for democracy, it is a dent on democracy and it tells you that only those who are financially mighty shall govern this country. Even if they have nothing to offer, as long as they have got money then they will prolong their stay in power and cheat the people. But this is very dangerous to democracy.”