UPND Spokesperson Charles Kakoma says the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) will be badly defeated in the 2021 elections because it will not have the resources to bribe every voter like it has been doing in by-elections.
And Kakoma says his party is happy with its performance in the just ended local government by-elections in Western, North Western in Luapula Provinces, because it gave PF a good run for its “stolen money”.
Meanwhile, Kakoma has lamented that UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema is technically on house arrest, giving him no option but to use social media to connect with the voters.
In an interview, Kakoma said it did not matter that PF won 10 out of the 15 ward by-elections because the most important thing was that the UPND had begun penetrating the ruling party strongholds and registering good numbers of votes.
“We are happy that we performed very well because the PF thought that they would sweep all the local government by-elections. But we won in Chavuma central ward and we lost one in Kasempa and we won another one in Mufumbwe. So in that stronghold in North-Western Province, we actually beat the PF pants down. In Western Province, they were targeting Mongu and Limulunga ward, we also beat them. You will recall that in the past in Mongu, it has been a problem because the PF has been winning those ward elections which they have been inducing. But this time around, they’ve not had it that easy. So they must be very embarrassed, especially looking at how much effort they put in and the amount of money they spent. The relief food meant for disasters which they took there, but they still lost. This shows that if they can even still lose by-elections while they are still in power, then in the general elections, they will be wiped out,” Kakoma said.
“For us, even in the PF strongholds like Chiengi, we are very proud of our performance there because the numbers are really very interesting. Those are difficult places where we could even get zero votes from a polling station. But now we are even getting more than 500 votes from one ward, so that is encouraging for us. So we are happy about our performance and only the PF should be worried about their performance. For us, we would therefore like to congratulate ourselves and thank all our people that campaigned and took part in the elections, they did a very commendable job under very difficult circumstances.”
And Kakoma said UPND was not worried about the way it performed in the by-elections because it gave PF a good run for its “stolen money”.
“We are not worried. The fact is that we have given PF a good run for their stolen money. They thought they would have it easy and get everything but they failed lamentably. I think next time they will think twice before buying any more councilors because they will not have it easy. They’ve seen that it’s not easy, and basically, they are just cheating themselves because they can’t base their popularity on winning ward by-elections. By-elections are very deceiving because the whole system descends on a ward; ministers, Permanent Secretaries, DCs… all of them using government resources, like using DMMU and the relief food which is meant for disasters and disadvantaged people, but PF are using relief food for campaigns, that is serious abuse of national resources. So even if they think they’ve won now, they cannot be celebrating such a win and in a general election, some of those things will be impossible to implement. Where will they find the mealie-meal to give to everyone in a general election? So they will be walloped very badly. With us, we have no access to relief food but we still win elections, meaning that we have a better formula for winning the elections than themselves,” Kakoma said.
Meanwhile, commenting on concerns by some UPND followers on social media that the party was not reaching out to the electorate in the remotest areas, Kakoma said UPND was using all the necessary channels to reach out to the people.
He said it was difficult for Hichilema to physically reach out to the people because the police would arrest him.
“I think our approach is to use all protocols or means of communicating; those that we can manage to communicate with on social media, fine, and the message is going and it is having an impact. And you will be surprised even when you say people in rural areas might have no access to social media, they are actually receiving messages on social media. If you went to rural areas, you would hear people saying that they got the information on social media. So it is not as useless as some people think, social media is working and we also using other means, we have been going to community radio stations and HH has been talking to the people on community radio stations and that is where it is having an impact and that is why you have seen the PF now beginning to attack radio stations,” said Katuka.
“So HH is in touch with the people in rural areas. Obviously some people want to see HH physically in the areas that they are concerned about, but time for that will come for now I think what is doing is enough ground work, he’s talking to the people somehow. At the moment we are battling with things like COVID-19 situation. You know HH is the most popular politician in Zambia and wherever he goes, he will draw crowds. You can imagine if HH appeared in Zambezi district today, the whole town will come to a standstill, how are we going to manage such a situation under this COVID? The other thing is that we have this funny piece of legislation called the Public Order Act (POA) which the police are abusing. Technically speaking, HH is under house arrest, if he comes out to go to a particular place, the police will descend on him. So we are finding other ways of beating them at their own game; there are so many HH’s but for them they are just looking at one HH, but there are so many other HH’s that are on the ground and meeting people.”