(By Edwin Mbulo in Kaoma)
NDC vice-president Josephs Akafumba says the presence of masked armed police in Mangango is a PF ploy to intimidate the electorate in the constituency. Voters next Tuesday elect a new member of parliament following the death of UPND’s Naluwa Mwene in August. In an interview after addressing a rally in Mayukwayukwa to drum-up support for the NDC candidate Kashandola Yuvwenu, Akafumba called on the Electoral Commission of Zambia to intervene.
He claimed the ruling PF was using ‘Chinese’ money to influence voters.
“The PF, which to me is a party full of trickery and bribery, are giving people sugar, money in order to win. That is not right. We all know that the PF don’t have the money. Where are they getting the money? The chitenges they are throwing around, where have they gotten the money? PF is a poor party, it is insolvent and it should have been liquidated a long time ago,” Akafumba said.
“We all know that this money is Chinese money which they have not worked for and they don’t care how to spend it hence the flooding of Mangango with money, policemen, but the sad part which I want the ECZ [Electoral Commission of Zambia] to look at is the heavy deployment of armed policemen where there is an election.”
Yuvwenu is a former district commissioner of Kaoma. Akafumba feared the increased police presence in the area was likely to intimidate voters.
“As you enter Mangango, a sad aspect which I observed is the number of policemen, armed to the teeth. You would think you are entering Baghdad, or you are in a war zone,” he said.
“This is not good for democracy, it is also not good for free and fair voting because already these voters who are predominantly villagers are not used to seeing guns and policemen putting on bandanas and masks as if there is a nuclear war. I know what the PF government wants to do is to completely intimidate these voters. This is not criteria for free and fair elections.”
Akafumba said other problems facing Mangango were teen pregnancies and unemployment.
“When you get into Mangango, you would think that you are not in Zambia. This is completely a different planet and to think that that Mangango has all along been a part of this country is unbelievable. The underdevelopment is really beyond imagination,” he said.
“One thing that attracted me as I was coming here is that I saw a lot of underage girls either carrying babies or they are pregnant. When you see such a thing it means that we are a sick society. It means that there is somewhere along the line, things have not balanced. Why is it that a lot of underage girls are dropping out of school? It means that the government is not doing something right, youths are left to wander around because government has not provided any better schools, either training institutes or formal education. There is completely none. Having been a member of PF, this is not what we agreed with [party founder] Michael Sata. We agreed to have equal development to ensure that the youths that are the future generation are given proper education.”
Akafumba said police must be disarmed and their roadblocks disbanded.
“There is no war here and along the way I met Paul (Moonga) [PF campaign manager for by-election] he is a colleague from PF and we greeted each other. That is the way it must be, it must not be a battle field or who can buy more pangas to come and win an election. It must just be a battle of ideas. We in the NDC under our consultant Chishimba Kambwili, this is how we are looking at politics, not politics of pangas,” Akafumba said.
He said the PF government had started grading roads in Mangango in an effort to hoodwink voters into believing that the government was serious about their plight. Akafumba said if the PF wins the Mangango by-election, it would be through the back door.
“Can the government be fair on development than cheat these poor villagers. I am happy that most of them understand that these graders that they have brought will add to zero,” he said.
Akafumba has since appealed to all registered voters in Mangango to turn out in large numbers and vote for the NDC candidate.