Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Forthcoming by-elections a litmus test for UPND - Mweetwa
By Allan Mulenga
Mon 20 May 2013, 14:01 CAT

UPND deputy spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa says the forthcoming by-elections will be a litmus test for the party ahead of 2016 elections.

And Chipata businessman Hanif Badat says no amount of propaganda will stop him from contesting the Chipata Central seat. And prominent businessman Moses Mawere says he is the preferred candidate for the Chipata Central seat.

The Electoral Commission of Zambia has set July 25, as the date for Solwezi-East, Kafulafuta, Mkushi North and Chipata Central parliamentary by-elections

In an interview yesterday, Mweetwa said UPND's popularity in the country would be put to a test in the four by-elections.
He said UPND had already started identifying candidates for the four by-elections.

"This is an opportunity for the party to gauge its popularity. It is a test on us as a party ahead of 2016 elections as regards to our presence on the ground," he said. "While the PF is being measured, we are also being measured as to our level of popularity on the ground. We are on the same barometer test like the PF, the only thing is that they are a ruling party. Where they don't fare well, it is a vote of no confidence in the PF administration."

Mweetwa, who is also Choma Central UPND member of parliament, claimed that UPND was closing up the gap in terms of PF's popularity.

"Even if we don't win the particular constituency, but if we are able to perform better and close up the gap between them, it shows that we are going to do better in the general elections where government machinery will be split," he said. "It gives us a feel of what is yet to come, especially as we approach 2016. We are naturally expected to take over where the PF was a stronghold in urban areas because in these areas, people do not stick to the ruling party if they are failing to deliver."

Mweetwa said Zambians were dissatisfied with the PF for failingto fulfil its campaign promises.

"People are angry with the removal of fuel and maize consumption subsidies. While it is regrettable to have these by-elections, it is going to give the PF a good barometer on what the people think about their governance system."

And Badat, said despite being a Zambian of Asian origin, the locals had accepted him in the area.

"The people of Chipata know my background. They have accepted me as part of them. I have worked with the grassroots for a long time," he said.

Badat said he was confident that he would be adopted to contest the Chipata Central seat on the PF ticket.

"There are seven of us but I cannot take things for granted; I am working hard with the grassroots. I am going into campaigns normally trying to sensitise them. They know who I am and what I can do for them. I feel they have showed a lot of confident in me that I will deliver," he said.

"Democratically, competition is healthy and I will still feel that I will carry the day if adopted by the party. They have accepted me with one heart. I have even gone for the PF ward by-elections. I have helped in way or two. I have overwhelming support at the grassroots."
Badat said he had already applied to the party secretariat to be considered for adoption.

"I am very confident that I will scoop the Chipata Central seat because the grassroots have clearly stated that they can vote for me.
They have got confidence in me. I feel things are okay. I have written all letters, I have filed in one at the party secretariat in Lusaka and as soon as I go to Chipata I will give the other ones to other party organs namely constituency, district and province after paying K100,000 each on all those party organs," said Badat.

And Mawere, who has since applied to contest the seat on the PF ticket, said the race was between him and Chipata residents.

"I need to be adopted. I am confident that I will be adopted once adopted I will scoop the seat. The race is between me and the people of Chipata," he said.

Mawere said he would respect the party's decision on the candidate for the Chipata Central by-election.

"As the PF, we believe in the people and the people have to make decisions, and Chipata residents will make the decision on who they want to represent them. If they feel I am the right candidate, they will adopt me," said Mawere.


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