THE Patriotic Front (PF) last night took an early lead in the Mufumbwe parliamentary by-election in North-Western Province.
By Press time, PF candidate Steven Masumba had scored the highest votes in eight of the 12 polling stations counted in the vast rural constituency.
MMD's Stafford Mulusa was second while Steven Kamwengo of UNIP was in third position.
At Chizela polling station Mr Masumba polled 581, Mr Mulusa trailed with 266 while Mr Kamwengo had two votes.
At Chifuwe, the PF candidate got 193, MMD 156, and six votes went to the UNIP candidate.
Mr Masumba polled 182 at Kalende, with Mr Mulusa getting 113, and one vote for Mr Kamwengo.
At Shukwe, Mr Masumba got 123, Mr Mulusa 92, while the UNIP candidate received one vote.
The pattern was the same at Bulobe where PF got 269, MMD 98, and UNIP six.
At Kawama, the PF scored 96, MMD 41, and UNIP polled two while at Kikonge, the ruling party candidate garnered 210 as MMD trailed with 148 and UNIP at three.
At Kawama depot, PF got 115 while MMD scored 95 with UNIP getting one vote.
MMD led at Kamabuta with 210, PF 206, and UNIP four votes.
At Kyamwina, MMD got 794, PF 601, and 16 for UNIP while at Kang'ombe, MMD led with 284, PF 231, and UNIP had six votes.
MMD got 97 at Kikata, PF scored 72 with UNIP getting a paltry seven votes.
Mufumbwe has a population of 55, 000 with 40 polling stations and 27, 027 registered voters.
Voting started on an impressive note with some polling stations recording more than 100 voters shortly before 06:00 hours.
A random check by the Times showed that some people had gathered at the polling stations as early as 05:30 hours.
At Kyamwina and Chizela basic schools, more than 100 people were found at the two streams waiting to cast their votes.
At Kamabuta, Kifufwe and Kalambo basic schools, more than 95 people had cast their votes by mid-morning.
Apathy was evidenced at Shukwe Polling Station in Kawama where only six people had cast their votes by the same time.
The PF, MMD and UNIP are participating in the by-election.
The seat fell vacant after Mr Masumba was expelled from the MMD and joined the PF which adopted him to re-contest the seat.
Meanwhile, eight MMD cadres were last night detained at Mufumbwe Police Station after they were intercepted in a Toyota Hilux van loaded with stones and a machete.
North-Western Province police chief, Eugene Sibote said the eight were intercepted at Matushe area, 10 kilometres from the Boma.
The vehicle, registration ACC 4995, was impounded.