The ruling Patriotic Front is reportedly frustrating campaign efforts of the opposition UPND in the fothcoming Kapiri Mposhi bye elections by insisting to hold rallies at opponents’ venues despite the directive of the Electoral commission of Zambia (ECZ) to the parties to submit campaign programmes that would not put competitors at the same venue at a time. UPND campaign manager in the 23rd April election, Austin Milambo told the Zambian watchdog that they failed to hold their meeting at Chankomo in Lunchu ward on Friday as ceremonial vice president Guy Scott was scheduled to have a meeting at the same venue. “We submitted our campaign programme to the elections committee but we were shocked that as we were preparing to hold a meeting, the PF also came and for fear of violence we gave in and let them go ahead but if such things continue we fear they may lead to violence,” said Milambo, who is also Mwembeshi MP.
During a brefing to candidates and their campaign managers at the civic centre shortly after nominations on 28th March ECZ Commissioner Judge Esau Zulu advised the parties to draw up campaign programmes for the period and where there was collision, he asked that reconciliation be drawn and advised the police not to deny any party chance to hold rallies. Milambo regretted the collission but blamed it on the PF and the police for allowing them to go ahead with a meeting at a place his team were scheduled to hold a meeting. “Dr. Guy Scott was not coming on state duties but to campaign for his party’s candidate, so why should he be given precedence over others?” wondered Milambo in a phone interview with the watchdog from Kapiri. Milambo said his party would officially complain to the ECZ and police so that this anomaly does not repeat itself. He warned that if ECZ through the conflict resolution and management committee does not move in to prevent this, the nation’s leading opposition party will be left with no option but to take the law in their hands and must not be blamed. Milambo accused the PF of pushing the opposition into a tight corner in order to manipulate the polls but was quick to indicate that their campaign was gaining momentum and remains optimistic that the candidate Lawrence Zimba will triumph over UNIP’s Francis Mwape and Eddie Musonda of the PF.
Meanwhile poor agricultural practices of the PF became an issue of discussion at the meeting he addressed at Chankomo. The residents, who are mostly peasant farmers complained to the veep that the Farmer input support programme (FISP) was being poorly administered under the PF. The impromptu meeting was poorly attended.