Over 500 members of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) in Chilubi district have defected to the opposition UPND, citing high cost of living.
On February 13, voters in Chilubi Constituency in the Northern Province go to polls in a parliamentary by-election that arose from the death of PF member of parliament Rosaria Fundanga last year.
Yesterday, the UPND campaign team was in Kanchindi ward where 150 PF members defected to the opposition party at Kapampa Primary School and another 200 members at Mapanda Primary School respectively.
At Mule village 250 more members of the ruling party defected to the UPND, citing high poverty levels and unemployment.
The residents claimed that the PF had even resorted to charging them between K1,000 and K1,500 for them to use their own boats to go fishing.
They further said the PF had promised to build schools, health centres and construct roads in Chilubi but that none of those promises had been fulfilled.
The residents complained that no PF official had gone back to them to report on development that they promised.
The residents wondered where the high number of PF members had come from during campaigns, asking them for votes.
The PF have booked the main ferry that shuttles between Chilubi Island and the mainland, Samfya, an action that the Electoral Commission of Zambia described as illegal.
According to the UPND media team, the PF scheme to disadvantage the opposition party by blocking them from taking campaign vehicles to the island had boomeranged.
The UPND team said they had resorted to using bicycles as they traverse the island campaigning.
UPND campaign manager Risto Mushembe wondered why the ruling party had to wait for a by-election for them to deliver development.
“They are only back because of the death of the area member of parliament. Do we surely have to wait for death for them to start working?” asked Mushembe. “The PF has not delivered in the last four years and there is absolutely no guarantee they will deliver their promises in one year.”
Meanwhile, Ilambo ward councilor Kelvin Mwansa asked Chilubi voters to emulate their colleagues in Lupososhi Constituency who rejected the PF in a local government by-election recently.
Ilambo ward is in Lupososhi Constituency where the UPND candidate, Mwansa won last year, causing panic in the PF provincial leadership.
Mwansa said while voters were suffering and starving because they could not afford the cost of mealie meal, PF officials they voted for were busy sharing contracts and stealing public resources.