PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu will get more than 252 votes in next year’s election because he has delivered on some of the promises that he made, says chief Chikanta of the Tonga-speaking people of Kalomo District in Southern Province.

Last week, President Lungu said he had made an ally in chief Chikanta and resolved issues that arose from the 2016 election where President Lungu only garnered only 252 votes from Dundumwezi constituency in Southern Province.

Chief Chikanta told News Diggers! in an interview that the electorate in the area had voted against government in 2016 because it had failed to deliver.

He, however, said that the Head of State’s performance will be better next year owing to the developmental projects achieved in the area ahead of the 2021 general election.

“Allies? (Laughs), I don’t have much details about that (laughs again)l it’s just that as Head of State, he is trying to show that even if people didn’t vote for him, in places such as Dundumwezi, he still goes there to try and take development. He is a fatherly (figure) so he won’t say, ‘because you didn’t vote for me, I won’t go to Dundumwezi,’ no. That’s what he was saying when he addressed people in Eastern Province. We don’t influence people. Each person has got their own decision regarding who they want to vote for,” chief Chikanta said.

“These are the conversations we had with him (the President). What we tell them is that in politics, especially when you are in government, for people to change their minds, especially if they voted against you, you must deliver according to their expectations because for people not to vote for you, it means there are certain things that they realised that you are not doing when you are right there. It means that they observe that you are not doing when you are right there in power. But if you take some development then people say, ‘ah! So, this team can actually deliver and you find that people change their minds and that’s how you influence people, by taking development to their places and giving them what they are lacking. So, we tell them that.”

He said the voting patterns in certain areas will be an indication of whether the PF had delivered development to citizens or not.

“So, what we mean is, according to how people are going to vote in 2021, it will mean that the President has delivered or not because we explained to him that, ‘why we didn’t vote for PF because we were talking for a long time about mobile phone towers; we were talking about no electricity in the chiefdom or area; we were talking about poor roads…’ I told him that for 24 years that I have been chief, we have been talking about these things and nothing has happened. So, we had no reason to vote for his party. So, now because we told him, he brought some of those things,” he said.

“He brought mobile phone towers in the constituency or chiefdom, he brought electricity to some parts of the chiefdom and they did the Kalomo-Dundumwezi-Itezhi-Tezhi road, which passes through the chiefdom. Now, when he does that, some people obviously will change their minds and say, ‘oh, so, after all, he can deliver.’ So, they will not get 252 votes that they got last time because of what they have brought. Not because I have told the people what to do, no. But because of what they have delivered. So, that’s very natural for people to do, (laughs).”

He said the working relationship between President Lungu’s office and his chiefdom had improved significantly since 2016.

“So, the 252 votes, they won’t get it this time because we told them that why we didn’t vote for them is because they were not doing anything, but now that they have done something, someone will say, ‘okay, let me vote for them this time.’ So, we are allies because he came to understand why Dundumwezi voted the way they did in 2016. And we explained to him that it’s because we had been crying for a long time and each government previously had not done anything,” said chief Chikanta.

“And unless they delivered, they were not going to get more votes. That’s the allies he was talking about. And there is still more that they need to do, this government. And our working relations have improved ever since they started showing signs of saying okay, we can take the development to Dundumwezi as well. Besides, as chiefs, we always try to work with the government of the day. And we have seen some hope that they have started delivering.”