Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Violence Characterises Katuba By-Election

By Paul Shalala in Katuba

Voting in the Katuba parliamentary by-election in Chibombo District, Central Province this morning started with an impressive turn out of voters.

Long queues of voters were formed at various polling stations along the Lusaka-Kabwe road.

Voters started queuing up outside polling stations as early as 05:30hrs this morning.

Even old people could be seen walking slowly to their respective polling stations to cast their ballots.

But as the day progressed, the number of people on the queues kept reducing.

At Muwanjuni Polling Station, which is the largest Poling Station in Katuba, three long queues of voters were formed by 06:00hrs when Presiding Officer Edward Phiri declared voting open.

Muwanjuni has 2, 085 registered voters and it is one of the areas in Katuba where major political parties spent most of their time campaigning.

At Shifwankula Polling Station, over a hundred voters had already cast their ballots by 09:00hrs this morning as dozens more were still lining up outside the Polling Station to vote.

By 08:50hours this morning, 92 people had already voted at Kayosha Polling Station which has 900 registered voters.

Some of the seven candidates vying for the Katuba by-election this morning voted in their respective polling stations.

National Revolution Party candidate Shakespeare Mwakamui cast his ballot at Kayosha Polling Station in the company of his campaign manager.

Alliance for a Better Zambia candidate Patricia Mwashingwele also went to Kayosha Polling Station to vote but she was turned away as she did not carry her voters card.

After half an hour of waiting, journalists called Ms Mwashingwele to find out if she would come back and vote but she said she could not find the card.

MMD candidate Cecil Holmes was not eligible to vote in Katuba as he is a registered voter in the neighbouring Chisamba Constituency where he once served as area member of parliament.

UPND candidate Jonas Shakafuswa voted at Northpark Polling Station near Kabangwe Police Station.

After voting, Mr Shakafuswa was briefed that Northern Province Minister Freedom Sikazwe had harassed her daughter Louise.

According to Louise, the Minister accused her of dishing out money to voters and he immediately searched her and found no money on her. 

Mr Shakafuswa later drove to Kabangwe Police Post with her daughter where the issue was reported to the Police.

Both at the Polling Station and at the Police Post, Mr Shakafuswa showered insults on Mr Sikazwe.

But Patriotic Front Deputy Secretary General Bridget Atanga said UPND cadres are the ones who harassed Mr Sikazwe at Northpark Polling Station.

She alleged that UPND cadres had invaded Mungule road and harassed anyone who was seen to be sympathising with the Patriotic Front.

Meanwhile, two PF cadres who have been allegedly beaten by UPND supporters have surfaced.

The two, Paul Mwamba and Joseph Chama where allegedly beaten in Muchenje ward of Katuba constituency.

Paul has suffered deep cuts on his face, lips and eyes while Joseph has loose teeth and internal injuries.

The cadres told me that they were blocked by UPND cadres on a gravel road and dragged from their vehicle and beaten with stones, sticks and iron bars.

 Meanwhile, Police at Kabangwe Police Post have arrested a man for allegedly assaulting the two Patriotic Front cadres.

Central Province Police Commissioner Standwell Lungu, who is coordinating the security operation in Katuba, says the Police are holding the man to help with investigations into the case.

Mr Lungu says a docket has been opened and the suspect will be charged with unlawful wounding.

The Police Commissioner has also disclosed that a second docket has been opened in the case involving UPND Katuba parliamentary candidate Jonas Shakafuswa's daughter Louise who was allegedly harrased by Northern Province Minister Freedom Sikazwe this morning.

Meanwhile, voting has closed in Katuba constituency at exactly 18:00hrs.

Counting has commenced in all the 32 Polling Stations across Katuba.

Votes from each Polling Station will be sent to the totalling centrer at Moomba Catholic Parish Hall.

Official results and the declaration of the winner is expected tomorrow as some polling stations are not likely to send their results in the night.

This is because some polling stations are not accessible by road as they are only served by helicopters from the Zambia Airforce (ZAF).

ZAF helicopters are expected to bring results from those inaccessible areas tomorrow morning.

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