4 July 2012

Zambia: By-Elections - Litmus Test for Parties

ELIGIBLE voters in three constituencies go to the polls tomorrow in by-elections which will serve as a litmus test for the opposition as well as the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) which has been running the affairs of the nation for the past nine months.

This will give the participating political parties to gauge their performance and relevance to the Zambian populace.

Zambia has evolved through political stages, maturing into an emerging democracy and a political marvel on the globe.

Though there had been sporadic cases of violence in Livingstone Central Constituency, the situation was not life-threatening while in Chama North and Muchinga Constituency in Central Province the campaigns were peaceful.

This is a sign that political maturity is reasonably high in the country boasting of slightly over two- decade period since the re-introduction of a multi-party political set up.

As the campaign period came to an end yesterday at 06:00 hours, political cadres retired to their bases to await the out-come of the polls, which will set the political direction of each of the participating parties.

The MMD which has 51 Members of Parliament (MPs) will be aiming to increase the tally to 53 so that it could retain the position of leader of the opposition in the House, previously held by Lunte parliamentarian Felix Mutati.

Certainly the MMD camp should have put in its best during the campaign because failure to recapture Chama North and Muchinga will result in more woes for the troubled opposition party whose popularity had receded over the years.

On the whole, participating political parties are yearning to get the full marks from the by-elections in the three constituencies.

In Chama North, Yotam Mtayachalo of the MMD, Herbert Zimba from the oldest political party in the country UNIP, and PF's January Zimba all expressed confidence to scoop the election in the vast rural constituencies.

In Muchinga Constituency in Central Province, Howard Kunda of the former ruling party, Jeliaty Ntembwa representing the PF and National Restoration Party candidate Kenneth Ngosa from the outset denounced politics of character assassination.

All the three expressed confidence.

Josephs Akafumba of PF, Howard Sikwela of UPND and two independent candidates, Soko Zondhwayo and Stephen Zulu are contesting the Livingstone Central Constituency seat.

All political parties are hopeful that the results will be in their favour.

Politicians should offer themselves for selfless service, bearing in mind various challenges in the constituencies and Zambia as a whole.

Zambia needs to improve infrastructure such as the road network, education and health structures.

The country has challenges such as poverty, unemployment, and disease burden, which people's representatives should address.

They should initiate development programmes and fac

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