ACTING PF secretary general Nickson Chilangwa says his party does not accept the outcome of the recently held Kabwata by-election because it was not free and fair.

And Chilangwa says there is an urgent need to reform the operations and management at the Electoral Commission of Zambia because in its current state, the commission cannot deliver credible elections.

During a media briefing, Saturday, Chilangwa lamented that the Police were unleashed to intimidate their members and that ZESCO also played a part in rigging the vote.

“As Patriotic Front, we do not accept the results from the Kabwata by-election because the ground was not free and fair. The Police were unleashed to intimidate our people; ZESCO played a part in rigging the vote. Who can explain the reason why ECZ before we started campaigning said there should be no political rallies but the UPND were allowed to conduct political rallies? Who can explain that? Is that leveling the political playing field? The answer is no. Did it occur to any one of you as to why we had power failure between 18:15 hours and 19:00 hours? There was power failure immediately the polling ended in Kabwata constituency and that time a lot of things happened. ZESCO is part of this, all they did was literally switch off from a substation in Kabwata and immediately power came back after 19:00 hours a lot had changed under carpet and during that blackout our members were chased and threatened,” he said.

Chilangwa said PF were not crybabies but were simply stating things as they were on the ground.

“I want to be very clear, we want to communicate to Zambian people of what is on the ground. We are not looking for sympathy at all, let some of you go and blow up a big headline tomorrow that PF are crybabies and are looking for sympathy. They are not, we are not looking for sympathy, we are just stating things as they are. This pomposity of twisting facts by some media houses, we don’t know if they are on the payroll of the UPND, we have no clue. We are not here looking for sympathy and we are not crying. We are here stating facts as they are and we want to be very clear,” he said.

And Chilangwa said there was an urgent need to reform the operations and management at ECZ because, in its current state, the commission could not deliver credible elections.

“From the happenings in Kabwata, it is clear that the Electoral Commission of Zambia in its current state has no capacity to deliver free, fair and credible elections. There is an urgent need to reform the operations and management at the ECZ because even accreditation, just literally accrediting our people was a challenge. They came with some unconstitutional guidelines on who should be accredited and who should not be accredited. It was up to them to decide, if they don’t like you they will say they will accredit one person from your organisation, if they liked you they will accredit 100 people. How is it that only three of our members were allowed into the totaling center? Three PF members were allowed into the totaling center, what happened? There were over 50 UPND people so that is what we are talking about,” he lamented.

Chilangwa said the results in the Kabwata by-election had sent shivers to the UPND after realising that Zambians were sick and tired of their lies and fake promises.

“Looking at how close the results were, it is very clear that despite the Republican President and his Vice literary shifting to Kabwata for the last seven to eight days, where they were leaving Kabwata sometimes after 19:00 hours and using all government machinery, using the police to intimidate the residents of Kabwata, it is very clear that this election was between Hakainde Hichilema and Clement Tembo, truth be told. The UPND went into panic mood and resorted to the use of violence, intimidation during the election. Immediately Clement Tembo was adopted to stand on the PF ticket, the UPND started putting pressure on the Zambia Police to arrest him on some fictitious charges. Their aim was to stop him from filling in his nominations. When that failed, they attempted to abduct him with a view of stopping him from filling in his nomination. Clement Tembo had to go into hiding for several days out of fear for his life instead of him concentrating on campaigning. As we are speaking right now, the police are planning to summon and arrest Mr Clement Tembo on unknown and unexplained charges,” he said.

“From the comparison of the number of votes, what the difference is now, it is very clear that PF is regaining its lost ground while the UPND is steadily losing its popularity on the ground. It is for this reason that I want to encourage all members of the Patriotic Front to remain resolute and continue to work hard. In fact, we are getting stronger and better. The results in Kabwata have sent shivers to the UPND camp; they have now realised that Zambians are sick and tired of their lies and fake promises. Zambians can’t eat speeches and fake promises, they want jobs which they were promised, they want business opportunities. Zambians want cheap food, affordable fuel, lower electricity tariffs, and cheaper fertilizer among other things.”

Chilangwa insisted that the Kabwata by-election was marred with widespread intimidation, violence and manipulation by the UPND.

“The UPND cadres besieged and literally took over all polling stations and the totaling center in Kabwata. They were armed with all sorts of weapons and intimidated and threatened our polling agents, election monitors and even ECZ officials. They were stopping anyone who was not part of their illegal activities from entering polling stations to see what was going on. Like I earlier stated, the Kabwata by-election was marred with widespread intimidation, violence and manipulation by the UPND. Our members were intimidated by UPND cadres. In most cases our people were blocked from monitoring elections; they were even blocked from taking food to our polling agents by UPND thugs, in full view of the police. How can that be free and fair? I don’t think so,” he lamented.

“Honourable Stephen Kampyongo and his team with honourable Mundubile were brutally attacked at Kamulanga polling station and nearly killed. Honourable Kampyongo was nearly killed, their vehicles were extensively damaged. Similar cases were reported at other polling stations such as Lotus and Kamwala community hall. We are still compiling, we have documented all cases of violence and intimidation which went on before, during and after the election in Kabwata. Our lawyers are studying the evidence and they will advise on the next course of action which we shall take as a party.”

Meanwhile, senior PF member Mwimba Malama said his party had reported whatever transpired during the by-election to relevant authorities.

“Yes we did report, in fact, we sensed that things are not okay. You know there are several stakeholders which are involved in an election. So when we observed something from police officers who were planted in Kabwata, we decided to go and inform the IG and we cautioned the police at the police headquarters that ‘look, we have tried by all means as PF despite being dared by UPND, we were provoked in most areas but we said let us avoid violence’. Talking about reporting to ECZ, we were very much alert. Anything that happened we reported, we even have letters. So we reported that and if you go to Kabwata constituency at almost every station which is in Kabwata we reported what was going on in Kabwata constituency,” said Malama.