TOURISM Minister Ronald Chitotela says the number of voters in Luapula Province has significantly increased because PF MPs mobilised and encouraged residents to register.

And Chitotela says it will be difficult for UPND to campaign in that province because they have continuously accused residents of being Congolese nationals.

In an interview, Tuesday, Chitotela, who is also Pambashe PF MP and Luapula Province PF deputy chairperson wondered how the UPND would convince foreigners to vote for them.

“They have been calling us that we registered Congolese. It will be difficult, in Parliament we have heard honourable Musokotwane who is chairman finance, [and] a lot of UPND key members calling the registered voters in Luapula Province as Congolese. Would it be easy for them to come and campaign to Congolese?” he wondered.

“Those are the questions they should come and answer, when they come to Luapula Province, because they have accused us of being Congolese. It is not by choice that we border with Congo, our friends from Western Province border with Angola and Namibia, they are not Angolans. Our friends in North Western border with Congo and Angola, they are not either Congolese or Angolans but how they have chosen to demonise the people of Luapula Province by referring to us as Congolese. Those are issues they will meet as they come to Luapula Province. We will ask them how come today you are coming to a Congolese?”

Chitolela said the increased number of Luapula voters was because MPs in the region worked hard to mobilise residents to register as voters.

“It is hard work, we put in a lot to mobilise people, because look, if you refer to 2016, Luapula was discarded in terms of NRC issuance. We didn’t have NRCs, the people who came to issue NRCs came after ECZ had registered voters and we were hoping that ECZ would come back and they never came back. So, when the opportunity came for our people to register as voters and obtain NRCs we maximized and mobilised people through hard work, all of us,” he said.

“We realised as members of parliament in Luapula that we cannot be in Parliament without the strong base. We all left Lusaka and camped in Luapula Province, mobilised people to register as voters and that is how we saw those numbers. There was no trick, there was no secret other than hard work and encouraging people to take their civic duties seriously. The people of Luapula responded positively and that is why we have seen increasing voter registration excess of 50,000 as compared to 2016 and 2011 and this was just done in 35 days.”

Chitotela insisted that Luapula is a PF stronghold.

“Luapula is a PF stronghold and my election as deputy chair is to provide the leadership of service above self to ensure that President Lungu gets the maximum votes and we multiply the Sesa formula not just in Mwansabombwe but for all the Luapula constituencies,” said Chitotela.

“We are a democratic society, what we can do is that we will allow everyone to participate but the assurance is that PF is very strong in Luapula Province and we can maximize numbers for President Lungu and multiply the Sesa formula. We will make sure that we multiply the Sesa formula in the region. Sesa formula must be contagious in Luapula Province. The campaigns are going extremely well in Luapula. On Saturday we will be in Nchelenge launching a mobilisation campaign. Everybody is entitled of their opinion but at the end of the day, it is the reality on the ground that determines who wins and the reality is that PF is very strong in Luapula Province and I want to assure the Zambian people we shall see the results on 12th August.”