President Lungu of the Patriotic Front has issued more threats against the UPND ahead of the elections in an attempt to intimidate the opposition supporters. Speaking yesterday at a public rally at Matumbo in the Shiwang’andu district of Muchinga, Lungu vowed that he would be decidedly ‘firm’ against any UPND supporters who wish to ‘cause trouble’.
It seems as if Lungu is attempting to justify PF acts of violence ahead of time. If his attempts to rig the electoral process are effective enough for the Patriotic Front to win the election and the Zambian electorate feel cheated out of their freedom to democracy, then it is likely that there will be some disturbances.
Thus far there is evidence that Lungu has attempted to rig the election through contracting the controversial Dubai firm Al Ghurairi to print ballot papers, by introducing new legislation to manipulate the ECZ to work in his favour, by bribing foreign nationals to pose as Zambians to vote for him and by appointing his allies to key positions in the Constitutional Court who will pass verdict on any dispute in election results.
Lungu’s statements yesterday add to a long list of threats against UPND supporters that they will under close watch by PF cadres on the day of and following the August 11th elections. It has already been made clear that military forces and state police are operating on Lungu’s behalf to intimidate opposition supporters and those who are sitting on the fence to vote for the PF.
The interference of State Police and military personnel in the election process so far is unprecedented in Zambia’s long history of peaceful and democratic elections. Police officials have turned a blind eye to acts of violence against UPND supporters, they have killed UOND supporters themselves, and they have been used to shut down The Post after its criticism of Lungu’s PF.
Comments made by the commander of the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) on 20th May suggest that State security forces may be used to facilitate election rigging and suppress opposition support using ZAF helicopters. The commander issued clear threats against UPND supporters that they will be dealt with harshly should there be any disturbances on the 11th August.
President Lungu is attempting to hold the electorate hostage through these threats of violence and to compel many to vote for him against their will. Only if the electorate turn out in large numbers to ensure his rigging strategy is unsuccessful will the UPND succeed in making it to the State House.
If the people of Zambia want change, they must act now.