UPND deputy secretary General Patrick Mucheleka says the opposition party is not discouraged by the loss of Kafue chairmanship, but will forge ahead despite the PF’s “underhand methods” of winning elections.

And Mucheleka says the detention of the UPND’s Lusaka Province chairperson Obvious Mwaliteta for more than 48 hours without taking him to court was illegal.

Reflecting on last Wednesday’s Kafue Council Chairperson by-election, Mucheleka insisted that the UPND was not discouraged by the outcome, but have resolved to forge ahead despite having to deal with the PF’s “underhand methods” of winning elections.

He argued that the ruling party used underhand methods to scoop the seat, while also accusing the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) of being a toothless bulldog that helped the PF to win elections.

“We can never be discouraged, it’s aluta continua! We know that PF cannot win an election genuinely anywhere in the country with the current situation. And even in Kafue, we know what they did up to now and we expected the media to take up this issue. Honourable Mwaliteta is still being held in violation of the law. The law is very clear that when somebody has been arrested, they have to be taken to court within 48 hours, but that is not happening with Honourable Mwaliteta. Why are they failing to take him to court if they found him with dangerous weapons? It’s almost a week now, it’s five days! He was arrested on Wednesday around 12:00 hours; they didn’t charge him until the following day. By 12:00 hours, it was more than 48 hours; they did not take him to court,” Mucheleka said.

“The whole idea is to try and break his spirit! They are forgetting that it was the same Mwaliteta that they incarcerated for over one year for an offense he never committed. Even in this case, Mwaliteta has not committed any offense, they found him standing and they say ‘we have found offensive weapons in your vehicle,’ which weapons? When someone was just standing outside, ensuring that the voting process was protected in Kafue?”

Mucheleka said the international community must impose sanctions on Edgar Lungu and his Cabinet Ministers for alleged abuse of human rights.

“The Zambia Police and the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) should be answering why someone should be held for more than 48 hours without taking him to court. We want to call on the international community to impose targeted sanctions, including travel bans on Lungu, Kampyongo, Kanganja and anyone who is collaborating with them!” Mucheleka said.

And Mucheleka, the former Lubansenshi Independent member of parliament, charged that the PF was buying votes in both Roan and Bahati constituencies.

“The campaigns in Roan and Bahati are going on well despite rampant vote buying by our colleagues in PF! Out of desperation, they have gone to almost every house in Bahati, Roan and elsewhere where by-elections are taking place, dishing out money! The money that they have stolen from projects, such as road infrastructure, that is the money they are using to buy votes. They have purchased brand new vehicles, some of them even without number plates! And you wonder where they have gotten the money to buy those vehicles. Otherwise, for us, our message to our people in Roan and Bahati is that they have to choose whether they want to remain in perpetual poverty by voting for PF and agree to be bought like commodities on the market, or to liberate themselves from PF by voting for the opposition so that we begin to look at sustainable opportunities for our people, than dishing out K20s or K50s at the time of elections and when elections are done, the people are left to continue suffering!” he said.

“They are now transporting people from Lusaka and other parts of Copperbelt, taking them into Bahati, taking them into Roan to go and do what they know best, taking over polling stations, while ECZ watches akimbo with their hands folded!”

Meanwhile, Mucheleka branded the ECZ a toothless bulldog that was helping the PF to win elections.

“And we have an Electoral Commission that is moribund! It has become useless! It is a toothless bulldog headed by that Chuulu! Why are they failing to enforce the Electoral Code of Conduct? Why are they allowing cadres to be running the elections? Why are they allowing police officers to be brandishing guns on the voting day when the law is very clear that no police officer should do that on that day? All those things were only witnessed under the One-Party State (era). When (Frederick) Chiluba came into power, all these issues were done away, but today, we are seeing PF and police officers brandishing guns and machetes to scare away people from voting freely,” complained Mucheleka.