The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) and several civil society organisations monitoring the Bahati Parliamentary by-election have described the voter turnout out as fair.
Mansa District Electoral Officer Sombo Kaela said that despite the heavy rains experienced this morning, the turnout has been fair.
Mrs Kaela has told ZNBC’s Paul Shalala that almost all Polling Stations opened at exactly 06:00 hrs although a few delayed due to the rains.
She has revealed that some Polling Stations which opened after 06:00 hours will have extended time for them to compensate on the lost time.
Mrs Kaela says voting went on peacefully across Bahati Constituency.
And Governance, Elections, Advocacy, Research Services -GEARS- Initiative Luapula Province Anchor-person Jerson Senkwe said the turnout at Polling Stations was affected by the rains.
Mr Senkwe said his organisation has seen impressive queues outside Polling Stations across Bahati Constituency.
But the Foundation for Democratic Process -FODEP says it has observed a low voter turnout out.
FODEP Luapula Province Chairperson Ethel Mwanza said very few people have showed up at Polling Stations due to heavy rains experienced this morning.
The rains which started at around 03:00 hours this morning, led to few voters showing up at Polling Stations at 06:00 hours when voting started.
At Council Guest House which is the largest Polling Station in the whole Constituency, only eight voters were outside when the Presiding Officer Sharon Chama declared the station open.
But the number of voters started increasing after 07:00 hours when the rains reduced, and people queued at all the three streams.
And at Kaole Primary School Polling Station, 26 voters were on the queues when the Presiding Officer Vincent Mushota opened the Polling Station at 06:00hrs.
All the three streams at the Polling Station had people queuing and the first voter cast his ballot at 06:05hrs.
Five candidates from the ruling Patriotic Front, opposition UPND, PAC, UPPZ and FDD are vying for the Bahati Parliamentary seat.
The Constituency has 43 thousand registered voters spread across 55 Polling Stations.
Voting is expected to end at 18:00 hours.
And in Roan constituency in Luanshya, despite the peaceful campaigns held ahead of the by-election, the area today recorded violence where suspected Patriotic Front cadres attacked members of the opposition National Democratic Congress who were alleged to have been carrying offensive weapons in their vehicle.
According to a statement released to the media by NDC Deputy spokesperson Saboi Imboela, PF brought in cadres from intercity with Bowman Lusambo commandeering them through the night and this morning violently beat NDC cadres and that residents on numerous occasions saw Hon. Lusambo distributing money on voting day and intimidating residents.
The statement further said that damage had been done to several NDC members and vehicles that were accredited as monitors and polling agents, respectively.
The statement went on further to say that NDC members also identified Lands Minister Jean Kapata as having led a team to an NDC member’s house were NDC officials: constituency secretary: Misheck Kanyanta, constituency chairlady: Bertha Mutale. and the driver Joseph Chileshe were camped.
“The PF cadres climbed the fence, destroyed the gate and broke the door to the house. They were camped at the house awaiting for break of dawn to start assisting the polling monitors and agents. The officials are currently detained at Mpatamato police station “, the stateme concluded.
However, PF issued a statement later advising the public and all its members across the country to avoid taking the law into their own hands but report any suspected criminality to the police.
“The Patriotic Front (PF) has learnt of an incident where an NDC vehicle carrying suspected criminals and machetes in Luanshya were allegedly attacked by suspected PF cadres. We continue to call on all members of the public including Party members across the Country to avoid taking the law in their own hands but report any suspected criminality such as the carrying of offensive weapons to the Zambia Police,” stated PF media director Sunday Chanda.
“PF is, however, not shocked that NDC has resorted to employing criminality as this was confirmed by Mr. Chishimba Kambwili who warned his imaginary vote riggers that they would get killed in the polling stations. While we understand Mr. Kambwili’s desperation, we refuse to believe that NDC must hire criminals and carry machetes in what has generally been a peaceful campaign in Roan Constituency. PF continues calling for peace and non-violence as people go to vote today, 11th April 2019.”