A MIX of low and high voter turnout characterised the voting in yesterday’s five parliamentary by-elections in Eastern, Central and North-Western provinces.
Low voter turnout was characteristic of the Solwezi Central, Zambezi West, Vubwi and Kasenengwa parliamentary by elections but a fairly higher turnout was recorded on the Mkushi South poll.
Voting in the Solwezi Central parliamentary by-election started on a low note with most polling stations having only a trickle of voters.
Solwezi Central has 22,900 registered voters with 30 polling stations in five wards.
A snap survey by the Zambia Daily Mail at some polling stations revealed low voter turnout at most polling stations which opened at 06:00 hours.
Kikombe polling station presiding officer Ngombo Solochi declared the station opened at 06:00 hours but only 73 had cast their votes by 07:20 hours out of 2,825 registered voters while 91 voters had voted at Tuvwang’anayi polling station by 06:56 hours.
At Mushitala polling station which opened at 06:15 hours, 78 had voted by 08:04 hours out of 2,007 registered voters.
Solwezi urban polling station presiding officer Collins Kasoma said 38 people had voted by 07:40 hours while 21 had cast their votes at Kimasala polling station by 06:41 hours.
In contention for the seat were the MMD’s Lucky Mulusa, the United Party for National Development (UPND)’s Dawson Kafwaya, UNIP’s Mary Katiki, the Patriotic Front (PF)’s Newton Malwa and Forum of Democracy and Development (FDD)’s Nathan Mulonga.
The voting pattern was similar in Vubwi but there was a slight increase in the number of people voting towards midday in the by-election that drew five candidates.
At Vubwi Primary School, which is at the centre of the district, presiding officer Anderson Mbewe opened the polling station at 06:00 hours and few residents had gathered to vote.
Voter turnout was impressive in the morning but later declined gradually leaving polling staff with no people to attend to.
The situation was the same at Mbozi and Mbande Primary Schools.
At Chimpanje Primary School less than 10 people were seen going into the polling station to vote.
And the Foundation for Democracy Process (FODEP) president Shepherd Chilombe described the low voter turnout as worrying.
Mr Chilombe told journalists here yesterday that only 10 percent of registered voters in Vubwi had cast their ballots by midday.
“Voting started on a low note and out of the 13 polling stations we have visited about 10 percent registered voters had voted. This indicates a low turnout,” Mr Chilombe said.
He, however, commended political parties for conducting orderly and peaceful campaigns.
Mr Chilombe further called for calm among political parties regarding the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ)’s decision to use the electronic system of transmitting election results.
The candidates for the seat were the PF’s Margaret Miti, the MMD’s Eustarckio Kazonga, the UPND’s Afonso Phiri and UNIP’s Lucas Phiri. Voting in sparsely populated Zambezi-West parliamentary by-election started on schedule at 06:00 hours and at Mapashi polling station 45 people had cast their votes by 06:39 hours.
Zambezi district electoral officer Godfrey Mulambya said: “There is good turnout, and after 10:00 hours we expect the numbers to increase.”
Mr Mulambya said Zambezi West is vast and results are expected to be announced today around midday. Zambezi West has 30 polling stations and 10,260 registered voters.
ECZ deputy director for voter education Jocelyn Mubita said the Zambezi West by-election was calm and peaceful.
Voters in Mkushi South constituency flocked to polling stations to decide who would be their MP among MMD’s Sydney Chisanga, PF’s Davies Chisopa and the UPND’s Agness Mambwe.
At Chikupili polling station, which has 1,200 registered voters, presiding officer Sunford Simufwi opened at 06:00hours and 27 people had voted within minutes of opening.
Mkushi South has six wards and 12,793 registered voters.
Mkushi South returning officer Kelly Mwebe said in an interview that people were voting peacefully.
Mr Mwebe, who visited several polling stations, was also optimistic that the number of voters would increase.
“A lot of people are voting at polling stations and there are queues,” Mr Mwebe said.
He also said final results will be announced today after the airlifting of ballot boxes from Chipaba, Ching’ombe and Mwalala wards which are located in Luano valley.
Voting in the Kasenengwa by-election started on a low note despite all the 54 polling stations opening at 06:00 hours as scheduled.
Kasenengwa has seven wards and 41,795 registered voters.
At Chankhanga polling station 20 people had voted by 06:30 hours.
At Katintha Primary School polling station, 10 voters had cast their ballots out of 781 registered voters by 06:20hours Katintha Primary School polling station presiding officer Lanken Phiri said voting was done in a peaceful manner.
By 12:50 hours, 208 people had voted at Chisambala Primary School polling station which has 624 registered voters.
Zambia Daily Mail