AFTER two years without representation, voters in three constituencies will today elect their members of Parliament, with three candidates vying for a comeback to Parliament.
Elections are taking place in Malambo and Petauke Central in Eastern Province and Mulobezi in Western Province in what is a popularity contest mainly between the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and the United Party for National Development (UPND).
Dora Siliya and Hastings Sililo will be hoping to end a two-year lull following the nullification of their elections, while Patricia Mulasikwanda is nostalgic about parliament, which she has missed for about four years.
Ms Siliya is recontesting the Petauke Central seat under the PF, Mr Sililo is representing the UPND in Mulobezi where he will face Mrs Mulasikwanda of the ruling party.
But Ms Siliya declared that she has no competition in the race, saying she still has massive support.
“There is only one party of choice in Petauke and that is the PF and after the elections [today], there will be no rumour of the opposition. People here have not only appreciated the candidate but the programmes we have for them,” said Ms Siliya.
She said Petauke is growing rapidly and needs economic stability while maintaining a record of high agricultural production.
She said improvement of social services such as water and sanitation, among others, is also topping her priority list.
Ms Siliya said she is happy that President Lungu, during his visit to Petauke on Saturday, talked about Petauke benefiting from the drilling of 920 boreholes throughout the country with the help of the Chinese government.
“I will also address and prioritise rural electrification, education and health sectors…of course youth empowerment is also on my agenda to ensure our youths become entrepreneurs and create employment in the constituency,” she said.
UNIP candidate Ignasio Phiri said the electorate have “listened and appreciated” his campaign messages.
Mr Phiri has also urged the people of Petauke Central to vote peacefully and “determine the winner”.
“We have moved around and the campaigns have gone well and people have listened to our messages to prioritise rural agriculture, schools, clinics and ensure we train school-leavers with skills,” said Mr Phiri.
UPND’s Allan Zulu said he has 85 percent chances of winning.
“Construction of dams, water and sanitation will be my priority. It is unacceptable for people to be sharing water with animals. I will also prioritise feeder roads to enhance agriculture and ensure there are enough health facilities.
“The people want change for development and they are voting because they need a leader to liberate Petauke,” said Mr Zulu.
Petauke Central constituency has seven wards and 53 polling stations with a total of 46,635 registered voters and a population of over 366,000, according to the 2010 national census.
Petauke district electoral officer Pathias Sumba said the final results are expected to be announced by midnight today because the furthest polling station is just over 30 kilometres away from the totalling centre.
Further east, residents of Mambwe in Malambo will also elect their MP after listening to campaign messages over the last one month, DARLINGTON MWENDABAI reports.
The four candidates contesting the seat are Jacob Shuma, 63, of PF, UNIP’s Jailos Mchenga, 38, Peter Simon Phiri, 41, of UPND and Florence Mwayopa, 63, an independent.
Malambo has 13 wards, 35 polling stations and 28,088 registered voters.
Mr Shuma said he will scoop the seat, which fell vacant after the Supreme Court nullified the election of MMD’s Maxwell Mwale on account of electoral malpractice.
“I have done my part and my message is simple: the ruling PF will continue to bring development such as building roads, health facilities and resolving animal-human conflicts,” he said.
But Mr Mchenga, a former PF member, is also confident of winning the seat.
“Development cannot take place without first people having a mindset of change. That is why I want to help bring development to this area by ensuring people first understand what development means socially and economically,” he said.
Ms Mwayopa described herself as a woman of community work, whose experience spans 25 years.
“My focus of the campaigns was based on addressing poverty at family level. I was asking people not to drink beer too much but to use their God-given skills to improve their lives,” she said
And Mr Phiri pledged to find solutions to the animal-human conflicts, negative effect of climate change and to promote development of the agriculture sector.
Electoral officer Oscar Musonda is hopeful the electorate will turn up in numbers to vote.
The people of Mulobezi will elect a leader who will represent them in Parliament over the next one year, reports ELIZABETH CHATUVELA.
The contest is between Mr Sililo of UPND, Collins Mbangu of Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD), Esau Mwanza of the Green Party, Mrs Mulasikwanda of the PF and UNIP’s Alfred Mandumbwa.
All the candidates have pledged to address the water shortage in the area and to construct roads.
The campaigns have been peaceful until yesterday when PF and UPND cadres clashed, resulting in three cadres sustaining gunshot wounds.
The incident happened barely a day after President Lungu called on the people of Mulobezi to remain peaceful as they go to the polls.
On Sunday, Mr Lungu called on the people of the area to remain peaceful, as he drummed up support for Mrs Mulasikwanda.
However, voters in Sichili are eager to vote.
Mubita Kalaluka and James Jamba said they will vote for a person with the right vision to develop Mulobezi.
Mulobezi constituency has six wards, 32 polling stations and 13,662 registered voters.