MAZABUKA UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo says the party has not lost its grip in Western Province and the only reason why it lost the Nangula ward by election was because people did not want to vote due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a local government election that took place on Thursday, PF’s candidate Kanyando Tabo polled 868 votes while UPND’s candidate polled 342 votes.

But in an interview, Nkombo said people were not willing to vote because of coronavirus.

“I think that, that particular by-election could never qualify to be called an election because there was no involvement. With this lockdown that is related to the coronavirus, we made an intimation to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to ask them to postpone these elections in order for us to campaign in a free environment that is devoid of any cross pollination of the COVID-19. The response I got from the ECZ was that it was a constitutional matter and therefore they could not stop the elections from going ahead and gave it a 90 day period. The Royal Establishment decided that they were going to cancel the Kuomboka ceremony on account of purely the COVID-19 pandemic that is within our midst,” said Nkombo.

“We wish to remind everyone that in the case of honorable (Dora) Siliya in Petauke central, in the case of Hastings Sililo in Mulobezi, in the case of Maxwell Mwale of Malambo constituency, there were no elections there for two years under PF. They decided to put those elections for three constituencies on ice. So PF knew exactly what they were doing from the time they bought the councilor up to the time the ECZ who we have no option but to think that they are collaborating with the PF. And in the wake of COVID-19, our people decided to sit back and people are tired of elections. You should not forget that in 2010, the MMD won all the by elections that had been created by them towards the general election of 2011 but the results of the general election was totally different.”

Nkombo, who is also UPND chairman for elections, said PF’s aim was to win elections at all costs and not deliver services to the people.

“I think Nangula by-election will be the wrong barometer to use to insinuate that we are losing grip in Western Province. But obviously, those who are myopic and short sighted, those who were excited about the collection of that ward by the PF whose aim is just to win an election and not delivering services to the people, it is called self-appeasement,” said Nkombo

Meanwhile, in a statement, PF secretary general Davies Mwila said the victory was a testimony of the party’s popularity.

“The two victories are further testimony of the Patriot Front’s nationwide popularity and evidence of the party’s foothold in regions once considered opposition strongholds. The party under the able leadership of President Edgar Lungu continues to deliver on its promises and developmental agenda as enshrined in its manifesto. The party has continued to attract patronage and new members as a result of strong democratic tenets and an open door policy with equal opportunity for all who come on board,” stated Mwila.