[By Ben Mbangu in Sinazongwe]
SINAZONGWE UPND member of parliament Gift Sialubalo says it is barbaric for any government to punish its citizens who vote for candidates and a party of their choice.
Addressing the media after receiving 49 defectors from the ruling PF in his constituency on Saturday, Sialubalo said it should not be about voting for the ruling party for any area to receive development.
“Where democracy has been accepted as a norm of leadership in a country it is barbaric and not necessary for government to punish its people or even any constituency because they voted the other way you never wanted. It is not right because we are all members of parliament for our country, Zambia,” he said. “Zambians don’t know tribe and race but are just called Zambians. This trend, if it continues where we start identifying ourselves on tribal lines or political affiliation, is bad and must not be tolerated because we fought for multipartism in 1991. And we have to adhere to the norms of what we fought for.”
He accused the ruling Patriotic Front of punishing people of Sinazongwe for voting against its candidate in the 2016 general elections.
Sialubalo said the government was denying people of Sinazongwe development so as to create an impression that the opposition UPND they voted for had failed.
“In a democracy even if as a ruling party you lose a seat in an election there should be continuity of projects that you started and not a situation where only those who voted for you are the ones to benefit, no! Like the case under PF, when you look at what is happening in Sinazongwe, before I became area MP the PF government prior to the 2016 general elections embarked on projects such as the new modern market in Sinazeze, tarring of Sinazeze-Sinazongwe boma road and also Dambwa road,” Sialubalo explained. “But from the time their candidate lost in Sinazongwe those projects have now become white elephants. Now when you are in leadership it’s not good to show such signs. You have to be of national character where people should judge you according to your deeds or programmes you have laid down for that particular constituency. We are national leaders, not political party leaders, no.”
He attributed the failure by the ruling party to show leadership of national character as the reason those who were in PF in Sinazongwe started rejoining the UPND.
“For government not to develop constituencies held by the opposition MPs is a trap to dent them so that they seem like they are failures. We should be above that as Zambians. It shouldn’t be about voting for the ruling party to see development but universal development that the country should embark on,” said Sialubalo. “Regional developmental agenda is not good for the country. In Sinazongwe what people can point at as a success story is the Constituency Development Fund. Any developmental project happening now is funded under CDF, otherwise from central government, all projects have been abandoned just because a PF candidate lost in an election.”
And speaking on behalf of other defectors, Paul Siachoko cited lack of employment, hunger and failure by the government to fulfill its campaign promises in the district as some of the reasons they decided to ditch the PF.