Let me start by saying the UPND is very grateful for the overwhelming support we have received in all the areas where the by-elections were conducted on 30th June 2015. We performed well in places considered not our strongholds but where people are simply beginning to identify with our message of hope. Thank you to the people of Malambo that moved us from 704 in 2011 to 2,582 barely 4 years later.
Thank you to the people of Petauke who moved us from a paltry 515 in 2011 to over 2,331 votes in 2015. This is no mean achievement, we should congratulate our candidates for the spirited fight they gave the PF. The people of Mulobezi cannot be left out for their resilience amidst the violence perpetrated by our colleagues. They still braved the intimidation and gave us 3,113 votes, only to miss it by a paltry 24 votes. This turn out represented over 50% of registered voters compared to the 35% during the January elections.
Let me now draw down to two issues. First the need for a constitution that will do away with these costly ventures; by-elections alone have cost this country billions of kwacha, we are standing at over 30 by-elections since 2011. What kind of country are we going to run with this kind of wastage? We are facing a budget overrun of close to 50%, and the events in Greece must open our eyes to this impending financial disaster.
Secondly I would like to address the issue of electoral violence. We are seeing this electoral violence escalating to levels that we will not manage if the violence is not curtailed. When people use live ammunition to deal with political opponents, and the Police, who do not have jurisdiction, say it was self-defense, they are telling us that it is acceptable to shoot at unarmed citizens. Is this how we want the country to be? This is what President Edgar Lungu must address immediately.
Lastly let me assure my party members that we are on course. This trajectory we are at since January 2015 elections, has been sustained. We have continued growing. Always remember this, MMD were winning by-elections six months before they lost the election in 2011. These by-elections, other than being costly to the citizens do not mean much other than that they are a constitutional requirement. Let us not lose focus, we are doing very well, we are making serious inroads in places where UPND was virtually unknown a few years ago. With the numbers I have seen, I am very confident that UPND is one course for 2016.
Thank you very much and God bless you all.