We will continue to help vulnerable Zambians with relief food with or without a by-election, including in Chilubi Island, says Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) national coordinator Chanda Kabwe.

Commenting on accusations by various stakeholders, who have complained about the sudden arrival of relief food in Chilubi constituency ahead of next month’s by-election, Kabwe said the DMMU was not being exploited by the ruling party to distribute relief food to the area.

He stressed that he will not reduce himself to a “group of liars” who wanted to create the impression that the PF were using the DMMU to buy voters ahead of the February 13 polls.

“The so-called Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) like to alarm the nation. Maybe it’s because if they don’t alarm the nation, their paymasters won’t fund them. They must go on the ground and get the facts. Otherwise, we will continue to help the people with or without a by-election and the people of Chilubi will receive the support. The 70 houses that were destroyed by the floods in Chilubi, we are going to help them. I was in Vubwi two weeks ago to help the people there and I don’t think we have a by-election there. Our team of engineers are in Monze working on a bridge that was destroyed by the flash floods,” Kabwe said in an interview.

He insisted that the DMMU was a neutral organization, which helped vulnerable citizens regardless of their political affiliation.

“I don’t want to reduce myself to a group of liars who, with impunity, want to lie that PF is using DMMU to buy votes. DMMU is a very neutral organization that helps people. The civil society who are making noise want the people to die just because we have a by-election? We must sacrifice hundreds of people just because of a by-election? We know our job and we are going to do our job with diligence, commitment and with truth. So, it is not true that we are distributing the relief food to buy voters. The people of Chilubi will continue receiving food even after the by-election,” Kabwe said.

“It’s high time the country became focused and decided to look at the plight of Zambians as compared to personal interests. And there must be a time of politics and the time to work together as the people of Zambia. This is not the first accusation that we have been accused as DMMU that we are trying to bribe voters to vote otherwise.”

He cited Sesheke constituency as an example where residents had continued to receive DMMU relief food despite the ruling PF’s electoral loss last year.

“In Sesheke, we were accused that we were trying to bribe voters even when we know that the people of that area, no matter what you do, they don’t appreciate because they have their own cult where they belong, we still went ahead and talked to the people of that area. But have the people of Sesheke stopped receiving relief food after the elections? The answer is no. The next accusation was in Katuba. We were accused in Kalomo where there was a council chairperson by-election, but have the people of that area who voted for the opposition council chairperson stopped receiving relief food? Again the answer is no,” Kabwe argued.

He urged those criticising the DMMU to get on the ground and conduct forensic audits to verify that recipients of food aid were still accessing food regardless of political affiliation or election periods.

“So, I don’t know why people want to start painting DMMU and government in the colour of the picture of their choice. It is not true and it is unfounded! People can go to Chilubi and do a forensic audit and find out when was the first consignment of relief food received? Which month and which year? The facts are there. It is in public domain on how many districts are being supported with relief food. It’s 58 districts and Chilubi is one of them. So, people should stop issuing alarming statements,” urged Kabwe.

“If they say, ‘wrong timing,’ what is the ‘right timing?’ People should die because there is a by-election (in Chilubi)? How many houses have collapsed in Chilubi? It is the mandate of DMMU and the mandate of government to support its people. I am just coming from Mambwe, Senanga and I was in Mwandi and Kazungula, Zimba and Monze, are we having by-elections in those areas where we are helping people?”