Friday, November 20, 2009

Solwezi votes with blood

Solwezi votes with blood
By Mutuna Chanda and Brighton Phiri in Solwezi
Fri 20 Nov. 2009, 04:01 CAT

PF's Charity Banda recovering from body pains at Solwezi General Hospital after being attacked by suspected MMD cadres. VOTING in the Solwezi Central parliamentary by-election got off to a slow and violent start yesterday.

Suspected PF-UPND pact cadres hit MMD Kyawama branch chairman Jaah Nsakanya with a bottle on the left brow at Kandemba polling station based at Kyawama High School, just after he cast his vote around 07:00 hours.

Nsakanya narrated that four suspected PF-UPND cadres alighted from a vehicle while he was chatting with the MMD Kyawama branch youth chairman.

He said the suspected PF-UPND cadres punched him before one of them hit him with a bottle on the left eyebrow.

Nsakanya said three of the four cadres ran away but that the one who was initially driving the vehicle which they came in was caught and handed to the police.

By press time Nsakanya, whose shirt was drenched in blood, was being attended to at Solwezi General Hospital.

Various incidents of violence marred the campaigns in the Solwezi Central parliamentary by-election into the eve of election-day.

PF-UPND pact campaign manager for the Solwezi Central seat Stephen Katuka said UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema had to abandon his tour of Solwezi main market late on Wednesday afternoon after MMD cadres threw stones at him though none of them landed on him.

Late on Wednesday night, two PF cadres among them Charity Banda, were attacked by suspected MMD cadres.

Speaking from her hospital bed, Banda said the MMD cadres ambushed her group near Mushitala Basic School as they were awaiting the arrival of the police whom they had called for protection after being tipped that the MMD cadres were about to attack their camp in the area.

“We saw a group of people walking towards our camp and we thought they were the police officers whom we had called for protection. We started walking towards the group with the view of briefing them,” Banda said.

“We did not realise that we were throwing ourselves in the hands of the MMD thugs. Before we finished telling them that MMD were about to attack us, the group descended on us, beating us using bamboo sticks.”

Banda said the PF-UPND pact supporters scampered for safety but two of them were caught and clobbered. She complained of body pains.

By press time yesterday, MMD and PF-UPND pact teams were in the field trying to counter each other’s attacks on supporters who were heading to various polling stations.

Early morning rains slowed the voting process and by 10:30 hours 1,063 voters had cast their ballots in four polling stations, which have a total of 10,942 registered voters.

At Kamakonde polling station, 94 voters had cast their ballots by 08:50 hours a centre which has 1,202 registered voters, while 158 had made their choices at Kyankwankwa which has 1,310 electorates on the roll.

By 10:00 hours, 370 voters at Kamijiji had cast their ballots out of 4,199 registered voters while 441 had voted at Kandemba polling station out of the 4,231 on the register.

MMDs Albert Chifita, PF-UPND pact’s Watson Lumba, Forum for Democratic Alternatives’ (FDA) Muhammed Kalela and independent candidate Thomas Kafula were in the race for the Solwezi Central seat which fell vacant following the death of area member of parliament Benny Tetamashimba.

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