‘Sonta’ cost UPND Kabushi parley seat

A WITNESS told the Ndola High Court yesterday that the PF ‘Sonta’ slogan cost the UPND Kabushi constituency parliamentary seat in the just ended August 11 general elections. Mr David Zimba of UPND said the promise by the current area MP Bowman Lusambo to settle water bills for Kabushi residents frustrated his party campaign team. Mr Zimba was testifying in a matter in which the losing parliamentary candidate for the opposition UPND Mr Enerst Lufunda has petitioned the election of Mr Bowman Lusambociting him as first Respondent and Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) as second Respondent. The UPND candidate is asking the court to nullify the seat on grounds that the elections were marred with intimidation and malpractices. Appearing before Judge Yvonne Chembe, Zimba aged 43, a resident of house number 822F Chinese complex, Masala Township testified that the pledge by Mr. Lusambo to settle water bills for Kabushi residents who owed the water utility company frustrated the party campaign team. Mr. Zimba alleged that Mr Lusambo first made pronouncements on Ndola-based Community Radio Station, Sun FM on 1st July, 2016 and the message went viral in Kabushi constituency and became the talk of residents. He testified that when the team undertook door to door campaigns, the electorate challenged them to point at what they were to do for the community in comparison to what the opponent in the race had pointed out. He stated that the pledge by Mr. Lusambo made their campaigns extremely difficult because no one was interested to listen to the party campaign message. He alleged that the same message was disseminated continuously through the use of the public address system (PA). He further testified that the UPND candidate campaign team further encountered difficulties from malicious statements and violence. He alleged that the UPND campaign team faced difficulties to access the communities because roads were blocked and rallies disrupted by cadres who he alleged were sent by the first Respondent. He indicated that the last mass meeting held on 3rd August, 2016 where the parliamentary candidate for UPND was expected to be introduced by party vice-president Geoffrey Mwamba but he alleged that it was prematurely disrupted by the Respondent. Mr. Zimba alleged that among the malicious messages disseminated using the PA system was accusations that it’s party leader Hakainde Hichilema, the parliament candidate Lufunda and all candidates standing on the UPND ticket were Satanists. In cross examination, Mr. Zimba told the court that like majority of residents in the constituency, he had been disconnected by water utility due to unsettled water bill, hence he was expectant that the bill was cleared. And petitioner in the matter, Enerst Lufunda told the court that he faced hostility as electorate challenged him to point at what he would do for the community in comparison with the PF candidate. Mr. Lufunda told the court he blamed the first Respondent for his failure to hold rallies because Mr. Lusambo appeared everywhere he went. He also alleged that transposing of his campaign posters with that of Patriotic Front candidate posters disadvantaged him as some electorate did not attach a face to a candidate. The petitioner has since closed his case having called ten out of twelve witness. Hearing continues as the Respondents present their defence.