UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema on Thursday brought business in Mpongwe district to a standstill when he visited Ibenga and Mpongwe markets to address political rallies to drum up support for the party’s candidate Rapson Chilufya in the 28th February by-election that has been caused by former MMD parliamentarian Gabriel Namulambe’s defection from MMD to the ruling PF on whose ticket he is recontesting.
Mpongwe residents fear that violence may break out if political parties continue to bring in cadres from other towns to come and campaign. They have called for peaceful elections.
The UPND leader has been in Mpongwe since Monday and says the election must be viewed as a test for development and democracy. At Ibenga market, Hichilema and Chilufya told voters to wake up early and avoid wasting their vote on Namulambe but vote for the UPND. Chilufya bemoaned the poor state of roads in the peri-urban areas and said he would ensure that those problems are addressed once voted in. He disputed Namulambe’s insinuation that only the ruling party parliamentarian can bring development to the area, saying constituency development fund (CDF) was allocated from the national treasury to each member of parliament regardless of the party they belong to.
“Namulambe became MP and minister in 2006 when MMD was in power, but never brought any development to the area. You voted for him again in 2011 and along the way he resigns and causes a by-election… is this the person you can vote for again?” Chilufya asked the gathering.
And at Mpongwe market party provincial chairman likened Namulambe to a prostitute who just goes to any man but does not progress. Matambo dismissed Namulambe’s claim for the Mpongwe- Machiya road as his saying the project was initiated by the late parliamentarian Dawson Lupunga and it was immoral and ‘unzambian’ for someone to claim credit for the works of dead people.
“This road that Namulambe is claiming was initiated by my late father in law Mr. Dawson Lupunga (MHSRIP) and I wonder why ba Gabby must claim credit, he is behaving like a desperate political prostitute,” said Matambo.
Meanwhile some voters have accused the PF of bringing bus loads of campaigners from other towns and fear that the ruling party’s political tactic may lead to violence in the area. “There has been a number of new PF members who we know do not stay in Mpongwe but are here campaigning for Mr. Namulambe, we want a peaceful election but these may cause violence and we are told that some more will be coming as President Sata comes on Monday,” said one businessman who with held his political affiliation.
They also expressed fear at the presence of armed policemen who were seen at the rally site but the UPND leader told them that the police were not there to harm them but to protect them from any intruders. HH however warned policemen to not to take orders from district commissioner George Nsali who is reported to have ordered the arrest and detention of Godwin Chakolwa a UPND member and worker at the mission hospital for keeping UPND meat in the hospital cold room. Chakolwa’s whereabouts are not known but sources at the police station disclosed that he has been taken to a police station in Luanshya ‘awaiting further instructions from higher authorities.’