MUFUMBWE residents erupted into ululations and jubilation yesterday when the UPND candidate in the by-election Elliot Kamondo was announced winner of the poll.
And UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema said his party’s victory meant another demonstration by Zambians desiring change.
Returning officer Rodgers Chiyang’a announced Kamondo was the duly elected member of parliament for Mufumbwe at 12:45 hours.
Kamondo who polled 5,313 votes to beat his closest rival, MMD’s Mulondwe Muzungu who polled 5,009 votes while the UNIP candidate Stephen Kamwengo polled 180 votes.
Ballot papers from three polling stations were delayed for about four hours.
The results from the last polling station only came through at 12:15 hours.
Immediately the declaration was made, the whole Mufumbwe boma broke into songs.
“Twalishiba fwebene eh, twalishiba fwebene eh, change eh, change eh, change eyo tulefwaya! (We know ourselves what we want, it’s change we want),” sang the high-spirited Mufumbwe residents. “Uno mwaka muleya, eh, uno mwaka muleya eh, iyaya elele, iyaya elele mama Pact iyo yaisa (You are going this year, here comes the Pact).”
The supporters walked to Freedom Square and waited to be addressed by Hichilema.
Meanwhile, there was an ugly exchange of words during announcement of results at the civic centre when Chiyang’a wanted to change the result of Kapenzhi polling station long after they were recorded on the chart.
The results, as agreed by stakeholders and recorded on the chart, read that UPND polled 364 while the MMD got 112.
Chiyang’a even announced other results from other polling stations when an officer from the Electoral Commission of Zambia went to him talk to him about the results of Kapezhi polling station.
Chiyang’a then announced that there should be an amendment to the results to read that MMD got 212.
As soon as he said this, the UPND officials reacted angrily to the suggestion.
“Stop doing that, don’t start misbehaving like that. I am coming from the polling station (Kapenzhi), we know you,” Copperbelt UPND chairperson Elisha Matambo retorted while pointing at the ECZ officer.
“You did the same in Kangwena and in Solwezi, now you want to change by 100 votes? Stop that…”
Matambo reminded Chiyang’a and the ECZ officers that they went to the polling station together with Mufumbwe Council secretary Aaron Kamalondo, the district election officer.
“Can you respect the will of the people!” he said.
Later the UPND called their vice-president Richard Kapita and he too reasoned with the officers saying Kamalondo and his team even blamed him for taking them to Kapenzhi polling station in the night.
“We knew there would be problems. He (Kamalondo) is aware of this. The result we got at the polling station is 112 for MMD, why do you want to change now? He (Kamalondo) is even ashamed,” said Kapita.
The election officers tried to argue that the records presented by the presiding officer had 212 votes for MMD.
This forced the officers to bring in the presiding officer to confirm his record but the UPND rejected the idea insisting that the results recorded on the score chart were the correct ones.
The UPND members, whose tampers were high, stood their ground and the matter was stood down, for consideration later.
The matter was only resolved after the final results were announced and the UPND through their chairperson for legal, Jack Mwiimbu, made a conditional concession to allow the alteration (give MMD the 100 votes) provided there would be no further alterations.
And around 03:00 hours, Chiyang’a announced that results from about five remaining polling stations would only be known around 07:00 and 08:00 hours.
However, the results took long raising suspicion that MMD wanted to tamper with them.
Results from about three polling stations were ferried to the totaling centre around 09:00 hours while a hour later, results from another polling station were announced.
Meanwhile, celebrations of Kamondo’s victory started around 03:00 hours when word leaked that he was headed for victory.
UPND agents and officials obtained results from all the polling stations by 23:00 hours and were merely confirming them at the totaling centre.
Several people stayed awake singing songs and dancing.
The people even made a mock coffin and wrapped it in an MMD Chitenge material and started marching along the road with it.
“Muzungu alala, alalaa! MMD yalala, yalala!” sang the elated cadres, some of whom powdered their faces white.
The jubilation grew bigger around 11:00 hours when UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema and Kamondo walked to the totaling centre to check on the process which was being delayed.
The UPND supporters raised the UPND symbol while calling Hichilema, Obama.
Earlier, Muzungu arrived together with Inspector General of Police, Daniel Kalenga, Elijah Muchima and Richard Taima.
Muzungu and Kabonde stayed in the totaling centre for about 15 minutes and was seen recording some of the results before walking out.
Kamondo said he was humbled and happy that the will of the people prevailed in spite of intimidation from the MMD. He thanked Mufumbwe residents for their courage amidst violence perpetrated by the MMD thugs.
“I thank the people of Mufumbwe for their confidence in me,” he said.
Hichilema said Zambians had made a decision that no one would stand in their way of change. He said people should read in between lines whenever they saw a clear message.
He explained that Mufumbwe had always been controlled by the ruling party.
“This is the first time that an opposition party is winning an election in Mufumbwe. The people of Mufumbwe are part of the Zambians who have made a decision to change,” said Hichilema.
He said he was waiting to hear from critics of his party, that it was going down.
Hichilema said his leadership was working as evidenced in victories in recent elections.
He said the UPND won local government elections in Gwembe and Shilenda.
“This party is growing,” he said.
“For Rupiah Banda, I say there is no need to put people in detention without any reason. There is no need to bring brutality to a democratic process like this one. Our people were battered.”
And MMD member Mundia Ndalamei who sat through the totaling process said the UPND’s win was just luck.
He said the MMD would now mobilize the grassroots for 2011 elections. He said the MMD tried but could not match the UPND’s popularity.
He also said it was unfortunate that many people did not cast their ballots because of the violence that characterised the campaigns.
THE POST NEWSPAPER