PF Mwandi constituency aspiring candidate Iris Kaingu says Western Province is no longer an opposition stronghold as it once was, adding that chances of the ruling party winning are at 99.9 percent.

On Monday, PF secretary general Davies Mwila announced that the party had adopted Iris, who is former Higher Education Minister Michael Kaingu’s daughter, to stand in Mwandi Constituency.

And in an interview, Kaingu said she was happy that she had been given a chance to prove herself in a leadership position.

She hoped that many young women would be encouraged by her adoption.

“We could have considered Mwandi and the Western Province as an opposition stronghold in 2016, but from the time I started my mobilisation tour last year, the people had pledged to try out the UPND for example and they have done literally nothing for the people of the Western Province. So our chances of winning are 99.9 percent. I’m happy that we have been given a chance to prove ourselves in leadership positions and I’m so encouraged that my President and my party have put such a big honour on me. It is not the easiest of journey’s of course but I think we are headed the right direction for sure. I’m hoping [that] by my adoption many young ladies and many women, female folk can be encouraged,” Kaingu said.

Meanwhile, UPND spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa has challenged PF to hold primary elections, saying the adoption process in Western Province was undemocratic.

“Now, at a time when UPND are holding very successful primary elections, PF yesterday (Monday) hurriedly announced a list of their candidates for Western Province without holding primary elections again. We find such kind of behaviour undemocratic. The rules of the game are clear. The law requires that candidates must undergo primary elections except those candidates who have stood unopposed in the entire Western Province. Unless of course they do admit that they are so unpopular and so unattractive that they do not have candidates willing to compete to vie on the PF ticket in the entire Western Province. Otherwise we needed to hear about this process of primary elections being conducted throughout the entire province within the Patriotic Front,” he said at the media briefing yesterday.

“So we want to dispute the list of candidates that PF announced to the nation that insofar as democratic tenets are concerned, that list is not valid. That is not a valid list. We want to see PF go to primary elections so that candidates can sell their manifestos not imposing candidates on the electorates. What type of democracy are they trying to mirror to the country as a ruling party?”

And in an interview, Mweetwa said the party did not feel threatened by the adoption of Iris and Prof Geoffrey Lungwangwa to stand on the PF ticket in Western Province.

He said unlike the ruling party, UPND decided to hold elections in all the 10 provinces of the country as it would provide them the best candidates in this year’s elections.

“We haven’t seen any candidate to threaten us there. Who? Lungwangwa? Look, this election will not be won or lost because of the candidates who will stand. This election is about the people versus policies and practices of the Patriotic Front. What PF has been doing in the past five years is what this election is exactly going to be about. Putting a particular candidate does not change the cost of living of the people of Zambia. Putting a particular candidate on a PF ticket does not change the Kwacha-Dollar relationship. Putting a particular candidate on PF does not create jobs for the young people. So all the challenges people have been faced with in the last five years remain standing. The only way to deal with them is when we go to hold the August 12, elections by installing a government with a tangible program and viable economic recovery. That is what is going to bring about change , not a particular member of parliament candidate,” Mweetwa said.

“We have obeyed the Republican Constitution by holding primary elections. We know that the reason they are starting with Western Province is because they have fewer candidates. So most of their candidates are going unopposed. In our situation, in all the 10 provinces we have highly contested elections and so we want to follow the rule of law. We do not want to do what PF did last week when they failed to hold a national convention and those who went to hold a press conference to announce a list of members of the central committee.”

Mweetwa said UPND was confident about the prospect of victory given that the people knew that only the opposition party had a credible and tangible action to reverse the deterioration of the economy.