Zambia’s acting president has expressed confidence that voters will elect Edgar Lungu, presidential candidate for the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), as the next head of state in the upcoming by-election.
In an interview with VOA, Guy Scott dismissed opposition accusations that the PF has implemented schemes, including plans to use state security officials, to rig the January 20 vote.
Scott also said the governing party has intensified campaign efforts in the run-up to the election.
“The campaign is going according to plan. In fact, it is going excellently,” he said. “It’s not such a difficult campaign. If some people give you their vote and you have to go back to them in three years because of death, then that is a feeling that they owe you the next two years remaining, period. So, it’s quite a strong sympathy vote here following the death of Michael Sata and to carry out our programs for the next five years.”
Political analysts say the PF's efforts at winning the presidential by-election could receive a significant boost following reports that former president Rupiah Banda, from the opposition Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD), will endorse Lungu ahead of the election.
Banda’s influence and opposition supporters disaffected by the MMD’s infighting, they said, could work in the PF’s favor.
Some members of the MMD, however, say it is unfortunate that Banda would throw his support behind Edgar Lungu. They say Banda should have helped resolve any concerns in the MMD and campaigned for Nevers Mumba, candidate of the party.
Scott however, said Banda’s support will help with the PF's effort to win.
“It certainly is great news; I doubt if it’s bad news. That is strength in our hands,” said Scott. “Politics is full of strange bedfellows. Politics is about things that work and sometimes you have to put up with a fair amount of strangeness for it to work.”
He outlined some of the PF's campaign promises: “We will stick to where we were — looking after the poor, empathizing with the poor, the disadvantaged, emphasizing infrastructural recovery … bringing education up to scratch for our increased population and doing many things like that.”
Opposition parties say the PF has failed to keep its promises to improve the standard of living for Zambians, including better health care delivery, which they said has proven elusive to citizens.
Zambians will be choosing a new leader following Sata's death last October.