The Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) says it is unfortunate that politicians are taking advantage of the electorate in Chilubi Island by providing them basic needs to solicit for votes.

And CSPR has urged voters in Chilubi not to be swayed by the food they are are suddenly accessing, but vote for a candidate with the best message.

In an interview, CSPR programs manager Juliet Ilunga wondered why politicians were donating food to Chilubi constituents ahead of next month’s by-election when people were always in dire need of food outside the campaign period.

Last week, an ambulance and tonnes of mealie were ferried to Chilubi from Samfya Habour by PF officials, which culminated in National Democratic Congress (NDC) vice-president Josephs Akafumba reporting PF campaign manager Dr Chitalu Chilufya to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for electoral corruption and fraud.

But Government Parliamentary Chief Whip Brian Mundubile justified the delivery of the goods in Chilubi, saying there was nothing sinister about the move in the midst of the ongoing by-election campaign because government must continue functioning.

“Firstly, we do realize that poverty levels are high. We have a number of areas in this country that have been affected with drought for the previous 2018, 2019 farming season; areas like Southern Province, Western Province, parts of Eastern Province; also areas like Chilubi Island where hunger has been ripe. The aid was needed at that time; it is unfortunate that politicians have to take advantage of the elections. What we are saying is that, in order to address the issues that are affecting the people; politicians need to look at the actual needs; it doesn’t matter what time whether there are elections or not. The issue is that they need to address the issues to the people, when the people need the food, It doesn’t mean that people only need those food supplies when there are elections, no!” Ilunga said.

“People have been hungry! Why is it that politicians didn’t take food three months ago? It is unfortunate that this is happening. We are calling on the affected people to know because they should be able to gauge what is behind the politicians’ idea of taking food now when there are elections. We have been calling upon government and other organizations, who can respond to address the need of the people at a time when people were actually hungry. But for them to take food, now, only when it’s about to be elections is quite unfortunate.”

She called on other CSOs to increase awareness to allow the electorate know their rights and vote wisely.

“This also calls for awareness among civil society organizations; those who are involved in civic education and electorate education for the people to raise awareness of the rights of voters. People need to know why is it that politicians have not been coming because they are aware that people in those places have been hungry when there are no elections. When people are aware, they will be able to make solid decisions when the time to vote comes,” she observed.

“If our leaders are genuine, they should take food to the people when the moment they realize that the people are hungry. This is not the first time that they know that people are hungry; they know, we were all aware that certain parts of the country were affected by the hunger situation. What we need is continued voter education so that voters are aware of their rights.”

And Ilunga urged voters in Chilubi not to be swayed by the food they are are suddenly accessing, but vote for the candidate with the best message.

“I mean, they are hungry! They need the food. But they should know who to vote for; they should not be enticed by the food. We know that political parties are going out there with the messages; they (voters) should be able to know who has genuine messages. They should make their own decisions; the decisions should not be on the basis of what they receive because I can wake up and just take 1,000 bags of mealie meal when I have no heart for the people. So, they should be able to listen to the message, the manifestos that the politicians are bringing and be able to make informed decisions not based on the food that they are receiving,” advised Ilunga.