The upcoming Katuba by-election will be a strong litmus test to see whether or not the UPND may resort to violence in their quest to retain the seat ahead of the 2021 general election, says PF secretary general Mumbi Phiri.
Concurring with the latest Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Report, which stated that the PF would win the 2021 general election under President Edgar Lungu but predicted that the build-up to 2021 polls would be marred with violence, Phiri said the warning should not be taken lightly as the signs were shown in the way violence was characterizing by-elections.
“This time, the litmus test will be the Katuba by-election because when we usually have a by-election in the UPND strongholds, violence easily erupts like that of the Sesheke by-election,” Phiri said in an interview.
“We had a by-election in Roan where there was not much violence like it was in the UPND stronghold, Sesheke; we also had the Bahati by-election where we didn’t have any violence like what happens in UPND stronghold areas.”
Phiri said the PF was expecting the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) and the police to work with all political party leaders in stopping violence like what happened in the Kafue Council Chairperson by-election.
“We set out what we expected to happen in Kafue, that’s why we saw arrests being made because we said we should not get cadres outside the jurisdiction of where the elections are happening; violence happened in Kafue, but it wasn’t that much until the last day,” Phiri said.
She warned that the 2021 general elections would be worse if electoral violence during by-elections was not stopped with concerted efforts from all stakeholders.
“At least we have been warned, in my language we say that: ‘ukwali isoke twakwafilwe umuntu,’ (someone who heeds a warning will not die). That if we do not work on stopping violence when we go for the general election, it will be worse so we will need to start now,” urged Phiri.
“Whenever we have a by-election, we need to work together as political parties, ECZ and the police and ensure that when we will reach 2021, the police arrests perpetrators of violence. I believe this violence might be stopped.”
Last week, the UK-based EIU stated that it expected the PF to remain in power beyond 2021, but predicted serious unrest, lawlessness, narrowing democratic space and escalating crackdowns towards in the run-up to the general election.