Friday, April 23, 2010

‘Milanzi candidates not campaigning in some villages’

‘Milanzi candidates not campaigning in some villages’
By Brighton Phiri in Milanzi, Katete
Fri 23 Apr. 2010, 03:10 CAT

POLITICAL parties participating in the Milanzi parliamentary by-election have not yet visited some villages along the Mozambican border to campaign for their respective candidates.

This came to light when a Caritas Zambia team led by programme officer David Mwanza visited some polling stations in Milanzi Constituency ahead of the by-election set for April 29.

The Milanzi by-election is being contested by MMD’s Whiteson Banda, PF-UPND pact’s Albert Banda and UNIP’s Musa Banda.

“We have been to Katiula ward which is a farming block within Milanzi Constituency. People in Katiula ward are complaining that none of the participating political parties have been to their area to introduce their candidates,” said Caritas Zambia Chipata Diocese programmes officer John Zulu.

“This is a serious anomaly by participating political parties because the electorate are not aware of the candidates for them to make informed choice.”

According to Zulu, the Caritas Zambia team that visited Katiula ward found that the area had no campaign and election posters to sensitise the people on the election.

He wondered why political parties were failing to reach an area which was about 10 kilometres away from Katete boma to drum up support for their candidates.

“How do you expect people to participate in an election when they are not aware of the candidates?” he asked.

Zulu named Umodzi, Lunga basic school, Kapondeni village, Malata, Nkungulu, Chongololo and Alick village, as some of the areas where participating political parties had not yet reached.

He observed that participating parties had concentrated their campaigns in Chimbundire, Kagoro and Kafumbwe areas because of the high numbers of voters.

“It is wrong to sideline areas on account of numbers,” Zulu said.
Mwanza asked Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to ensure enough voters’ sensitisation and to give people enough time to decide on their preferred candidates.

“This brings about serious problems after an election because some people might feel left out or marginalised in the electoral process,” Mwanza said.

At Alick village, headman Alick complained that people would be forced to vote without sufficient information if participating political parties failed to visit his area.

“It is a situation of fishing without bait on our fishing rods,” said headman Alick.
Headman Alick said people should be accorded an opportunity to demand serious commitment from the aspiring candidates on shortages of medical drugs in clinics, lack of market for their agricultural produce and lack of clean drinking water in Milanzi Constituency.

“We want to hear how those aspiring to serve us will address the problem of drug shortages in our clinics. Mind you, our clinics serve some communities in Mozambique along the border. We want them to tell us how they will establish markets for our produce,” said headman Alick.

“When there was a serious financial problem at Ministry of Health in Lusaka sometime last year, we were asked to contribute buckets of maize towards our health services at St. Francis Hospital in Katete. When we tried to seek clarification from our late MP, he told us that he was too busy to come here. These are some of the questions we need to be answered.”

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