UPND elections committee chairman Gary Nkombo says any a government that uses muscle as compared to brain is gone.
Nkombo, the Mazabuka Central member of parliament, also argues that one cannot say the political ground has shifted following the UPND’s loss in 10 out of 15 ward by-elections held last Thursday, July 30.
He says the UPND is dealing with a lethal system which likes taking advantage of the poor voters.
Nkombo featured on Hot FM radio’s Hot Seat programme yesterday and explained the UPND’s perceived loss of some grip, especially in Western and North-Western provinces.
He first delved into history and talked about how the then ruling MMD used to win by-elections, ahead of the UPND and the PF – all in the opposition then.
“They won all of the by-elections, both in the PF strongholds and what was perceived to be in our stronghold,” Nkombo recalled.
He said a ward by-election began by PF ministers, “who we have named, going to gullible councillors whose pay is K3,000 per month.”
“They (councillors) haven’t been paid for 10 months. A minister of government, and we know them by name, and says to this councillor ‘we’ll pay you the 10 months that you haven’t been paid. That’s K30,000 [and] ‘we’ll pay you for the balance of the 10 months that are left’ – that’s another K30,000. ‘Then we’ll give you an extra K60,000’ and that’s K120,000,” Nkombo explained.
“Who, among the poor, would not accept to get a K120,000? That’s a bonanza! It’s a jackpot.”
Asked to give evidence to his assertion, the lawmaker responded that there were some councillors whose conscience defeated the pressure.
“They resign and then they rescind the decision and say ‘here is the money that Honourable so and so gave me.’ So, for now it is the councillors’ word against the ministers’ word. So, this is an allegation which has substance,” he said.
He added that out of the 15 ward by-elections, there were only 15,000 votes, plus or minus, people who voted.
“They got 10 and we got five. When you add the votes for the 15 by-elections, you’ll find that there are about 15,000 voters, against 17 million people,” Nkombo noted.
“Can you say that the ground has shifted, because people have been overwhelmed with mealie-meal which ordinarily they would not have had? We are dealing with a lethal system which likes taking advantage of the poor.”
He indicated that any government that took advantage of the poor was not worthy being one.
“The PF is the weakest party that ever lived! When a party starts using muscle more than brain, you know that they have become weak now. When a political party uses patronage more than brain, you know that they have started losing grip,” he said.
“When a political party starts using threats [like] breaking bones, calling citizens disgruntled…. How many people have been assaulted in this country just for walking past a bus stop because you are wearing a UPND t-shirt? Assaulted, left for dead! That’s using muscle. Any government that starts using muscle as compared to brain is a gone government.”
Nkombo, however, pointed out that: “there comes a time when the 17 million people’s representatives – those who will be eligible to vote – go to vote countrywide.”
“They (the PF) can’t use their muscle,” he said.
“The point I’m trying to drive is that a government which takes advantage of the poor is not a government worthy to be sitting in that place.”
Nkombo charged that the PF government was corrupt.
“If you want evidence, I can give it to you over Bill 10. The PF ministers approached many of us that tizakupatsani ndalama (we shall give you money)…. What more evidence do you want?” Nkombo wondered.
“Corruption in PF is endemic. It has become endemic where corruption is now at all levels; it has been perfected under PF. They have earned us a bad name! It makes Dracula the head of the blood-bank, it means you are actually saying it’s okay for you to drink blood.”
He further explained that Zambians’ indignation now was contextualised.
“They understand that we are not being looked after well by the government. We may all be wearing smiling faces but the bottom line is that everyone is asking for a subsidy. The Zambians have reached a dead-end – they cannot survive. Mealie-meal is expensive!” he said.
“There’s consternation in this country. People are simply unhappy with the way we are being run. But we are depending on them (those in the government). We are being stopped to campaign….”
Nkombo said the issue of stopping the opposition to engage with the masses started with the public order Act.
“Now it’s being perfected with COVID-19, to diminish the operation space for the opposition,” he complained.
He also accused the government of disenfranchising people in the ongoing first phase of national registration cards (NRCs) issuance in North-Western, Copperbelt, Luapula, Northern and Eastern provinces.
“They have selected areas where they are giving national registration cards…. They think that people who choose them in the strongholds are buffoons. Take for instance in Luapula; they have been issuing NRCs for a long time. Do you think the people of Luapula don’t think?” Nkombo asked.
On some semblance of road network development in the capital city, Nkombo remarked: “there should be no way of cosmetically making Lusaka look posh, when people are living in squalor….”
He told eligible Zambians to vote in next year’s elections.
“If PF is destined to win, let them win fairly and squarely and we’ll respect the decision of the people,” he said.
To those who feel fatigued to vote, Nkombo said such would be: “at their own detriment.”
“People are always told that the change that you seek to see resides in you. If the Zambians have been downtrodden, subdued to a point where they feel ‘no, we’ll not vote, then it means they have succumbed,” said Nkombo.
“Anyone who will not go to vote is worse than PF! Anyone who does not turn up to cast their vote, it means they are part of the problem that we are suffering [from]. Let the people go and vote – make their desires known – so that if PF is going to win, let them win resoundingly and then we’ll put our tails under and say ‘this is what the Zambians want’ but the converse is also true.”