Editor's Comment

UPND danger to society

UPND supporters in Livingstone forced the Electoral Commission of Zambia to open trucks they suspected were carrying extra ballot papers.

THE impounding of vehicles carrying election materials is not only criminal but undermines the country’s electoral system which has for years won accolades locally and internationally.
Some United Party for National Development (UPND) members impounded eight trucks carrying election materials on suspicion that they were laden with pre-marked ballots.
That is absurd and an affront to the maturing democracy, which has been the envy of the world.
We, therefore, join other organisations and individuals in expressing alarm at the conduct of the UPND lately ahead of the August 11 general elections.
The behaviour of the opposition party’s leaders and cadres is not only dangerous but also embarrassing not only to the party but the nation.
It is unbelievable that a political party that is aspiring to rule Zambia can conduct itself in the manner it did in Livingstone on Monday.
As usual, acting on a rumour, the UPND leaders quickly mobilised their cadres to intercept eight new trucks ordered from South Africa by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to be used in the transportation of election materials.
Livingstone district spokesperson Neto Halwabala said a “concerned citizen” from Sesheke had alerted the party that the trucks were carrying pre-marked ballot papers allegedly to be used in the rigging of the forthcoming elections.
Without verifying the rumour, the leaders mobilised their cadres who illegally impounded the trucks demanding to know what they were carrying.
A horde of excited cadres and their leaders escorted the trucks to Livingstone where a larger mob of their colleagues had gathered at the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) port office.
In their usual rowdy style devoid of basic application of thinking, the cadres blocked roads, inconveniencing members of the public.
After three hours of negotiations, police who had escorted the trucks for security reasons allowed the cadres to search the vehicles.
They searched the containers and drivers’ cabins, but found that the trucks were not carrying any ballot papers.
In the confusion that surrounded the whole spectacle, one cadre was shot and wounded.
As expected, the UPND has not exhibited any sense of shame after discovering that their allegations were false.
Moral leaders would have apologised to ECZ, the government and the whole nation for raising unnecessary alarm and endangering peace and the safety of the drivers of the trucks.
But asking the opposition party to do so would be asking for too much.
It does not see anything wrong in such childish and embarrassing escapades.
It is not the first time the UPND is engaging in this rowdy conduct.
Towards the January 20, 2015 presidential election, its cadres impounded ECZ trucks on their way to Lusaka from Chirundu on suspicion that they were carrying pre-marked ballot papers.
It was again discovered that the trucks were in fact carrying lamps and plastic chairs to be used in the polling stations.
We understand why the UPND is exhibiting this kind of desperation.
Before the dissolution of Parliament, its spokesperson, Charles Kakoma, had bragged that there would be an exodus of PF MPs, including ministers, to the opposition party.
To date, Zambians have not seen the imaginary defections except a few disgruntled leaders who fought President Lungu and tried to prevent him from contesting the presidency last year.
As if that were not painful enough, the PF has not only tightened its grip on its strongholds of Lusaka, Copperbelt, Luapula, Northern and Muchinga provinces but has, through the alliance with the MMD, added two more – Eastern and Central provinces in addition to some swathes of Southern Province.
It has also made inroads in Western and North-Western provinces, leaving the UPND with only one stronghold.
The opposition party has apparently done its computations and by now knows that it is headed for an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the ruling party.
But elections come and go; they should not drive any political party to such desperation. It’s not the responsibility of UPND to offer security to election material because that is the sole responsibility of ECZ.
UPND should calm down and allow democracy to dictate the direction of the elections.

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