Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Apathy hits Kapoche

Apathy hits Kapoche
By Post Reporters
Wednesday June 06, 2007 [04:00]

A low turn out of voters yesterday characterised the Kapoche by-election. And some registered voters in Petauke’s Kapoche Constituency yesterday said they were tired of voting. Meanwhile, Citizens Forum (CF) executive secretary Simon Kabanda said the electorate were fed up of voting because their leaders had severed contact with them.

Voting in the Kapoche by-election started on a fair note but some women talked to in Mutambazi area said they were not casting their votes in the polls because they were not motivated to do so. A registered voter, George Mwale of Nyandwane village in chieftainess Mwanjabantu's area, said people were not interested in voting because their area had been neglected by the government.

He complained about the bad roads and lack of a secondary school in the area. Mwale expressed sadness that President Mwanawasa only said Kaumbwe Basic School would be upgraded instead of constructing a secondary school. Another voter, Phallesy Ngulube also of Mwanjabantu said it was sad that there were no developmental projects in the area despite people electing leaders.

She said people had been crying for development for some time but they were not getting a clear answer from government. Some polling stations in Mutambazi ward in chieftainess Nyanje’s area recorded a low turn out of voters in the morning.

At Zawekha polling station, people started voting around 06:00 hours and by 9.15 hours, 81 people had voted out of 397 registered voters. About 67 out of 334 had cast their votes at Mbwindi Polling station by 10:05 hours, while 115 out of 681 had voted at Chimpulu around the same time. Mwangaila polling station had recorded a total of 129 votes out of a total of 460 registered voters.

Meanwhile, Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) vice national secretary Eunice Mwenge said voting in some areas was incident free but that they had received reports of fighting involving MMD, FDD and PF cadres in chief Mwanjabantu’s area. And a check at three polling stations revealed that less than half of the voters had voted by 14:00 hours. At Mwanjabanthu polling station, only 250 voters had cast their vote by 13:45 hours out of the 708 registered voters.

At Petauke polling station, presiding officer Jonathan Muhinyi revealed that two people were not allowed to vote because they registered in neighbouring Petauke Central and Msanzala constituencies. “Turn out is not all that good. Only 140 people have so far cast their votes and there are 362 registered voters,” Muhinyi said.

At Lusinde polling station, where MMD parliamentary candidate Professor Fashion Phiri cast his vote, just 195 voters had cast their votes by 13:50 hours out of the 450 registered voters. Lusinde presiding officer Edson Phiri attributed the low turn out to the harvest season. “We expect more voters to come later in the afternoon,” said Phiri. And in an interview after casting his vote, Professor Phiri said he was confident of winning the seat because the MMD had done a lot to sensitise the voters on the need of voting for the party in government. “”I’m very confident of winning,” declared Prof Phiri, while acknowledging that FDD candidate Charles Banda was his main opponent. “But he was rejected just eight months ago.”

Prof Phiri, who was accompanied by former member of parliament Nicholas Banda, said he would continue from where Banda left. “We believe people are giving us a vote,” said Prof Phiri.
Kapoche has 62 polling stations with over 27,000 voters. And Kabanda said in an interview that the failure by leaders to deliver on the promises they made during elections had killed people’s interest in voting. “It is not the first time people are saying that they will not participate in elections. If we see the reasons for not doing so, you find that in fact they have valid reasons,” Kabanda said. “The leaders have no contact with their leaders. The leaders go to Lusaka and forget about the people who voted for them.”

He said this was the reason civil society organisations last year advocated for the signing of social contracts to give the ordinary people an instrument to use in holding leaders accountable. “These politicians make a lot of promises during campaigns which they do not fulfil. How do you vote when you see no change in your life?” asked Kabanda.

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