UPND spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa says the ruling party is maintaining Andrew Teyangwa as its candidate in the forthcoming Kabwata by-elections, contrary to speculation from critics. n

Meanwhile, Patriotic Front Kabwata aspiring candidate Clement Tembo says he is in hiding because his life is in danger as some people are planning abductions.

In an interview, Mweetwa described as baseless claims that the ruling party induced the cancellation of the Kabwata by election because their candidate was a weak contender.

“There is no basis for such claims whatsoever; we are going ahead with the same contender. I will be briefing the press tomorrow [today]. We are not going to change our candidate for any reason. That’s the candidate who was adopted and we look forward to the election,” Mweetwa said.

“This is just political machinations without any substance whatsoever. You know, our colleagues the Patriotic Front, the challenge which they have is that they are used to divisive politics. They enjoy looking at things using a divisive lens and as such, such claims that we induced the cancellation are baseless.”

He said the Kabwata poll would be a litmus test as to whether Zambians had forgotten about PF’s violence.

“The PF have no message in Kabwata and because of lack of a message they are trying to find something they can cling on in order to have some form of relevance. As things stand now, everyone knows that they [PF] have lost the seat. They stand with no chance because Kabwata is a litmus as to whether the people of Zambia have soon forgotten about the violence that now would have now rocked the constituency because of the election, the insults that were the order of the day and each time you would turn your phone into social media you would find PF thugs smoking publicly, burning money, insulting elders opposition leaders like Hakainde Hichilema and Chishimba Kambwili then in opposition,” he said.

“There is nothing drastic that has happened in Zambia that can make the people of Zambia to change overnight and begin to vote back the PF. We are aware of the challenges affecting the nation, especially issues to do with the economy. We found the economy in a much depleted state, it was in ICU and now measures are being put in place to address issues affecting the economy but some of these measures will require that the citizens endure. They have to endure the removal of subsidies for instance, but citizens understand squarely well that the measures that are being put in place are not for self-preservation for the ruling party but that these measures are meant in the long term to benefit them and to liberate the economy so that it can come back to begin to function normally unlike were we picked it from.”

Meanwhile, in a Facebook post on January 11, Tembo claimed his life was in danger.

“My life is in danger; they want to do anything possible to prevent me from appearing on the ballot, even if it means arresting me without committing any crime. God shall give us victory, Tembo posted.

And in a follow up interview, Tembo said he had information that UPND wanted to use cadres disguised and police officers to harass him.

“I am away; I now have to be at the farms when I am supposed to be free at home because this is a democratic country. They want to use people purported to be police officers and yet they are cadres to harass us. That won’t work! We are aware that they are planning abductions but luckily we are able to get first-hand information from their camp. But to be very honest we shall remain sound and ensure that we are on the ballot” he said.

“They are feeling the pain and they know what is happening. Njala siziba chipani [hunger knows no political party]. There are a lot of UPND members who are with us and they are the ones who are even telling us what is going on. The UPND members are feeling the hunger also, they know to say that a lot of things have gone astray.”

Tembo appealed for peace and calm among Zambians.

“I am an advocate of peace and, therefore, I am the kind of person who would urge people to demonstrate peacefully and differently. Do not demonstrate by going in the streets throwing stones. The better way to demonstrate is to use your voter’s card, it is a very powerful way to show the authorities that we are not happy with the status quo other than using other means,” said Tembo.