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We can’t connive, UPND still have stamina and popularity – Kasanda

INFORMATION minister Chushi Kasanda says the PF are giving themselves unencumbered credit and popularity to think Zambians would make a mistake of voting them back into government.

Responding to assertions that the UPND government has connived with the Electoral Commission of Zambia to cancel the Kabwata by-election because their candidate Andrew Tayengwa is not popular, Kasanda said the UPND still has the stamina and popularity and would not need to connive with any party.

Kasanda, the chief government spokesperson, said even if the PF rebranded they would never bounce back into power.

“The PF have always given themselves unnecessary credit and relevance. Like I always say, people want to make themselves relevant but to tell you the truth they are very irrelevant if you ask me,” she said. “I know they are talking about the rebranding but whether they rebrand or they don’t rebrand, they are not coming back.” Kasanda said as has happened in the past, “there is no government in Zambia that has bounced back after being booted out of office”.

“There is no government that has ever come back. Absolutely none in Zambia. And they won’t be the first. There is no way the UPND government has connived with UPP. We wouldn’t even bother ourselves to go to a small party like that and start negotiating. Whether small or big we wouldn’t negotiate with anybody. We still have the stamina and popularity and would not need to connive with any party,” she said.

Kasanda argued that the UPND is happy with the Tayengwa and are sure of victory even if the elections were held next week.

“We decided on the candidate and we are happy with the candidate we decided on. There was no reversal by the way. So them to actually say that we connived with the candidate of that party is every unfortunate. They should be bigger than that really,” she said.’

Kasanda further said the UPND has spent a lot of money on the by-election thus it would not be in their interest to have it cancelled for whatever reason.

She said with only 10 days remaining before the poll, it was illogical for the UPND which is still enjoying massive support from Zambians to get off the bus.

“We are not ready to do that as a government. We are at pains that actually somebody did that. It has not sat well with us but that’s their constitutional right. PF will give credit to themselves just like they always do just to give themselves relevance,” Kasanda charged.

She said the cancellation of poll by the ECZ was in line with the provisions of the Constitution.

Kasanda said the ECZ is an independent body and “there is no political influence in their operations whatsoever”.

“We cannot influence ECZ to do that, absolutely not,” maintained Kasanda.

On Monday, the ECZ cancelled the Kabwata by-eletion after the United Progressive Party (UPP) Kabwata candidate Francis Libanda sent in a second letter invoking the provisions of different Article 52(6) of the Constitution of Zambia, which among other things includes resigning from the sponsoring party.

ECZ chief electoral officer Patrick Nshindano said the Commission had rejected the withdrawal from the election by the UPP candidate dated January 7, 2022 and allowed the by-election to proceed as planned as provided for by the electoral process Act No. 35 of 2016, Section 31 (2) which empowers it to reject a withdrawal and proceed with the election.

He explained that a “withdrawal” is clearly only permitted before the closing of nominations as provided under Section 31(2) of the electoral process Act.

Nshindano, however, said with the second letter received from Libanda dated January 10, 2022 clarifying his decision whilst invoking the provision of Article 52 of the Constitution, the electoral process Act under Section 31(2), the law requires the cancellation of elections and calls for fresh nominations for eligible candidates.

Following the cancellation of the by-election, various stakeholders among them the PF feel that Libanda was paid by the UPND to withdraw after sensing a loss.

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