UPND national chairman Stephen Katuka says the party is confident of winning the by-elections slated for today because President Hakainde Hichilema has the key to the treasury, which will make it easy to deliver development.

The Mongu Mayoral by-election in Western Province and two Local Government Ward by-elections in Lukutu Ward of Luwingu Town Council in Northern Province and Katimba Ward of Monze Town Council in Southern Province are being held today.

In an interview, Katuka said the UPND was optimistic that it would scoop all three by-elections.

“We are very optimistic that we will get three out of three. So people know that the party in government is UPND. The President of the country is Hakainde Hichilema, he is the only one who has the key to the treasury and everyone wants to align themselves to the party in government. On the 12th of August, the Zambian people decided who should be in charge of the affairs of the country, that includes the treasury. They can demand for development easily through their elected representatives, it is easy to demand for development from a party that is in government. That was the message that we were given by the others when they campaigned in Chilubi Island that ‘don’t vote for the opposition, they will offer you nothing, but for us we are in government, development will come’,” he said.

“Who is this independent person going to work with, if they vote for Socialist Party, who is he going to work with? When you lobby from a government that you feel is yours and they owe you that development will easily come. The President was there yesterday, and people were bringing out their challenges. If they told Fred M’membe, what would be his response? Can he promise them that he will bring a bridge next week? He can’t do that! So the only one who can do that is the one in charge of the treasury.”

When asked whether the electorate should vote for the UPND candidates on that basis, Katuka responded in the affirmative saying everyone was in need of development.

“Yes, because we are all in need of development. It is an easier route. When I went to Mansa, Milenge for the by-election, what I learnt from the people there, I told them that ‘this is a PF stronghold’, they said ‘no! We are not a PF stronghold. If you don’t know Mansa is one of the poorest, so for us to go against the government of the day is making ourselves even poorer, because we will be denied a lot of services by the government of the day. That is why we belonged to PF as a way of getting a benefit from the government of the day’. For sure they proved it by voting for UPND in that by-election in Milenge. So the ground is fertile and the chances are 98 percent. So I could tell that the people want to join the bandwagon and work with the government of the day. If you follow the trend after the general election, we only lost in Kaumbwe, the rest of these by-elections that have been coming, we have been winning and we are still winning,” he said

Katuka said it was useless and irresponsible for an opposition party to think they had made progress by winning a ward election.

“I want to tell you that we are not a small party, we have been in existence for over 23 years. We have set bases in almost every province, every district, every constituency. Everyone knows who is in government, which party is in government, which President is running the country, now imagine that Socialist Party wins Lukutu by-election, what difference will it make in this country? Not even in that constituency, completely nothing,” said Katuka.

“Apart from that, it will mean that a councilor will be a lonely councilor, who will he work with? And there is no way he will deliver to the people of Lukutu ward. Who is this man going to work with? But if you are a loner, you are a councilor for Socialist Party, you know that some of these parties don’t even have a structure, they don’t have a branch, they don’t have a district. It is a one-man party. There are no structures on the ground, so how does this lonely councilor operate in an area? It becomes very difficult. If we are to face facts, it is useless and irresponsible for anybody to think that you can have one councilor in Lukutu and think you have made progress, even if they win that I don’t think it is value addition in any way, it won’t add any value. What will happen is that with time that councilor will find it difficult to exist alone, he will decide in fact to defect or just to resign which would create another by-election, which is not necessary, we are spending so much money in these by-elections.”