UPND elections chairman Gary Nkombo says the party has rejected pronouncements by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) that there should be no campaigns in the forthcoming Lukashya and Mwansabombwe by-elections.

And Nkombo says the party has adopted Davies Mulenga and Sunday Maluba for the Lukashya and Mwansabombwe by-elections, respectively.

Speaking during a press briefing, Tuesday, Nkombo explained that the party would conduct campaigns while adhering to COVID-19 health regulations.

“The ECZ have been making pronouncements that are undesirable. Judge (Esau) Chulu, time has come for you, sir, to be consistently consistent. At the time we were hit by COVID-19, we went to the ECZ and told them that these elections that PF is sponsoring, we should not have them. ECZ said to us: ‘it is a constitutional mandate that we should have these elections.’ An election is not an event, it is a process. For it to be called an election, it has to qualify because it is a process. People have to associate, people have to sell themselves, the recent pronouncements by the ECZ that there will be no meetings, we reject, as UPND, and also as a lawmaker. We challenge the ECZ to come up with a law that overrides the Bill of Rights, the right to assemble, the right to movement,” Nkombo said.

“We will conduct these elections as business as usual in the new normal where we will assemble people in accordance to the Statutory Instrument for COVID-19 and until they repeal that particular legislation, which they made themselves, we are going to have meetings in Lukashya, in Feira, in Mwansabombwe, in Lufwanyama and everywhere else. We are going to go and campaign, that is the mood we are in. For them to make such draconian, jungle laws where they just sit as ECZ and make unproductive pronouncements that they will be no campaigns is frivolous! We will not allow it! If they insist, we will have no choice, but to continue believing the fact that the ECZ are in collaboration with the PF. And to the police, anyone who takes unlawful instructions commits an offence.”

And Nkombo, who is also Mazabuka Central UPND member of parliament, said the UPND’s decision to adopt a candidate rejected by the PF was not strange.

“Only last week Davies Mulenga, popularly known as ‘Big Mule’ was a contestant in PF. This is not strange. I am sure you all know the member of parliament for Mangango, Honourable Godwin Putu, somebody who attempted to be an MP for UPND for numerous times, either he was not picked and the times he was picked in 2014, I was his campaign manager, together with Jonas Shakafuswa, and we lost. At the critical moment, he made a decision to join PF and he won. Nobody called him an opportunist. He’s an MP for PF, but we know deep inside the full story. He is our candidate for Lukashya and in Mwansabombwe, we have Sunday Maluba,” he said.

Nkombo said Mwansabombwe and Lukashya constituents should be reminded that they would be bribed by the ruling party, but that they should hold firm and show politicians the direction the country ought to go.

“I want to confirm that we have secured candidates in all the 12 local government by-elections and we have finished our processes of adoption of the parliamentary candidates. The people of Lukashya, the people of Mwansabombwe have got an opportunity to show this country the direction. They must be reminded that the PF are going to, as usual, bring mealie meal, stolen cash and we should underline this. They will bring stolen cash for the next three weeks, eat that money. That is our message to you. Luapula ought not to be a poor province with abundant water supply, it should be a shining example of a wealthy region. Why is Luapula in that state? The current leaders of Luapula are the ones with money. How come the people they are looking after are poor? The people of Luapula should remember the state of those leaders before they came into government and realise that it is because of their vote that they have excelled themselves and left everyone behind,” said Nkombo.