THE people of Katuba will today deliver their verdict on who they want to represent them in Parliament as they vote in a seemingly tightly-contested by-election.
In contention for the seat are Moses Chilando of the Patriotic Front (PF), Jonas Shakafuswa of the United Party for National Development (UPND), Patricia Mwashingwele of the Alliance for Better Zambia (ABZ), Joseph Mushalika of the National Restoration Party (NAREP), Shakespeare Mwakamui of the National Revolutionary Party (NRP), Allan Malawo of UNIP and Cecil Holmes of the MMD.
This is a litmus test for all the contestants but more so for the MMD which held the seat before it fell vacant with the death of Dr Patrick Chikusu last December.
The former ruling party has been on the wane since losing the 2011 general elections and will want to prove that it still has some steam in it with a win today.
For the PF the test is on its growing popularity beyond its traditional strongholds.
The UPND seeks to prove that it can recapture the seat it once held and detach the tag of “regional party”.
One of the newest parties in contention, the ABZ, has an opportunity to prove that it has a worthy following.
The same goes for NAREP and NRP whose candidates are lesser known but the parties have, they say, lots of confidence in them pulling off victory.
The campaign trail for most of the candidates has been woven around the promise for development but it remains to be seen who of the seven was the most convincing.
The electorate does not have much longer to wait, the die is cast.
Katuba had 28,903 registered voters for the 2011 polls and it is only these that are eligible to make the decision for the people in the constituency which has six wards, 32 polling stations and 48 polling streams.
The six wards are Katuba, Chungu, Mungule, Muchenje, Chilyo Chabalenje and Kabala.
In the 2011 election, Dr Chikusu won the seat with 6,389 votes while Mr Shakafuswa polled 3,531, the PF’s Susana Mwelwa got 1,622 votes while an independent candidate Derrick Chaikana got 2, 083 votes.
Meanwhile, ECZ acting public relations manager Sylvia Bwalya has urged the electorate in Katuba to turn-out in large numbers and participate in the electoral process by voting for their preferred candidate.
Ms Bwalya said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that the people of Katuba should exercise their democratic right by voting for a candidate whom they think will help develop the constituency.
“ECZ has put everything in place to ensure today’s by-election is successful. We are very prepared as a commission for the Katuba by-election and today’s voting is expected to run smoothly.
“The onus is on the people of Katuba to exercise their democratic right by voting for their preferred candidate, a candidate they think will bring development to the area,” she said.