UNITED Party for National Development (UPND) chairman for elections Gary Nkombo says the party is not worried with their recent by election losses as they are gaining ground in PF strongholds.

And Nkombo says his party will not allow PF’s vote buying “monkey business” during the August 12 general elections.

The Patriotic Front (PF) scooped three out of the four ward by elections that were held on Monday.

In Kamimba ward, Lumezi District, Eastern Province, PF’s Ngoma Biason won by 1691 votes, UPND’s Mvula Timeyo got 559 and National Restoration Party (NAREP) candidate Phiri Davies got 195. In Maramba Ward, Livingstone District, Southern Province, UPND’s Sakala Evans got 578 votes, PF’s Samasumo Florence got 465 and NAREP’s Siamuluwa Brian managed 19. In Kaimbwe Ward in Kasempa District, North-Western Province, PF candidate Shimikila Keagan got 356 vote while UPND’s Kakona Innocent got 228. The PF also scooped the Luola ward poll by 368 votes to UPND’s 314.

In an interview, Nkombo said it was unfortunate that the PF, through the aid of the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU), had continued to take advantage of the hunger situation in the country to lure votes.

“Firstly you know PF get a lot of help from government institutions like the DMMU and in the midst of hunger, our people will normally succumb to the handouts that PF are giving in order for them to lure support. I want you to take the results of Kamimba Ward in Eastern Province, 500 people is not a joke. In as far as we are concerned, the general election will show a completely different picture because PF will not manage to give the whole country handouts. It was easy as usual for them to seize four small communities, four wards and give them all sorts of things including cash money for them to be voted for,” Nkombo said.

“So we are concerned but not worried about the results of that. It doesn’t forbid us from just doubling our efforts. We will double our efforts going into the general election and we still remain very confident. Kasempa for instance has 22 wards, all the 22 wards came to UPND in the last election and Kapinga Mpande the former MP there has been going to lure councilors. So they have managed to take four out of 22. So the 18 are still very firmly held by the UPND. The councilors refused because they understand that they are not on mortgage or on sale. So PF has systematically been taking advantage of councilors to create a by election. I mean it is easy to entertain 500 people but you can’t entertain 17 million people.”

And Nkombo accused the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) of conspiring with the ruling party by turning a blind eye as PF buys votes.

“PF buys councilors, we are not normally in the know, we don’t know that this is what they are doing. So clearly in terms of the bad vice of paying councilors to resign, the PF have been ahead of us on that particular issue alone. So by the time the councilor resigns they have put their foothold in there and we do not know until the councilor announces their resignation. We are very hopeful that as time ticks and we go in a general election we will stretch each other with the PF. They will not stretch us. There will be no allowing the DMMU to do this monkey business that they are doing at the moment. It is called vote buying and the unfortunate thing is that the ECZ have kept a blind eye on it. That is why we think that the ECZ always conspires with PF,” Nkombo said.

Nkombo said UPND was gaining ground in most PF strongholds.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the UPND is gaining ground in PF strongholds. Let me give an example: In Lumwezi we got 500 plus votes. 500 people is a lot of people. You know there is this thing about by elections not changing anything, just three, four, five months before an election. So people do not even turn up to vote and so that is wasted energy. So the time of reckoning is this year. The dissolution of Parliament will come in the next couple of months and that is why people want to focus on August 12,” said Nkombo.