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Zambia: Netizens Worried About Poll Violence Rhetoric

Zambia goes to the polls on September 20, 2011, to elect a new president, members of parliament and local government representatives. The opportunity to discuss this important national event is not lost on netizens as they use the Internet to talk about the threat of violence, bribery and even just plain support of their political parties and candidates.

On fears of potential pre- and post-election violence, one Zambian tweep, @bukavu, wrote:

@MOSS_from_MARS @livilodge @shacut lets make the election period peaceful in #Zambia, tell ppl it doesnt help the country 2hav bloody fights

Michael Sata, the main challenger to Zambia's incumbant president files his nomination. Image by Owen Miyanza, copyright Demotix (09/08/2011).

Michael Sata, the main challenger to Zambia's incumbant president files his nomination. Image by Owen Miyanza, copyright Demotix (09/08/2011).

Another tweep, @chiwama, quoting the EU observer mission on a Zambian radio station, wrote:

EU observer mission says it's also psble 2 have free fair elections & not need to resort to violence- Hot FM #Bantuwatch #zambiaelections

On beheading a live chicken at a public rally by Father Frank Bwalya, one tweep wrote:

Someone beheading a live chicken at a political rally in #Zambia speaks volumes of the quality and maturity of the political debate

Father Frank Bwalya has for the last three years led a red card campaign against the ruling MMD. The campaign involves honking car horns and flashing red cards on Fridays to show dissatisfaction with the ruling MMD.

Another tweep expressed concern about what Zambian election campaigns have been reduced to:

To some people #ZambiaElections simply means free food,clothes , beers its coz of the high #poverty levels

During past elections, and the forthcoming ones are no exception, some Zambians are known to sell and others to buy voters’ cards as a way to make money the sellers and to disenfranchise those likely to vote for the opposition by the buyers. One tweep bemoans the fact:

Overhead a conversation where some pipo actually don't mind selling their voters cards at K50 000 (10US D) #BantuWatch #ZambiaElections

The poll debates are even hotter on the Facebook group Zambian Peoples Pact with members pitching for their leaders. One MMD supporter posted reasons why he thinks his party will win elections in the Northern Province, a region which in the past has supported opposition Patriotic Front president Michael Sata, one of the leading contenders:

Gunston Chola explained why the electorate of the Northern province will vote for Rupiah Banda and the MMD candidates:

1. A new high school is under construction in Muyombe.
2. The Isoka-Muyombe Road will be upgraded from grave to bituminous standard. This project will be implemented over 2 years at a cost of K213bn.
3. An agreement has been signed between the government of Zambia and Kaidi Biomass Zambia Limited (KBZ) to initiate biomass project which will cost US$ 450 million in its first phase Phase one of the project will involve the construction of local infrastructure such as houses, roads, electricity and schools. The investment is expected to create about 10,000 jobs in both Nakonde and Isoka districts.

Chitulika Zitu laughed at the comparison between Zambia and China made by the ruling party economic adviser:

ZAMBIA IS A FTASTEST GROWING ECONOMY ALONG SIDE THE LIKES OF BRAZIL AND CHINA”, MMD ECONOMIC ADVISOR WAS BRAGGING ON USELESS ZNBC.STOP SMEARING FEACES ON THE FACES OF POOR ZAMBIAN.
BRAZIL AND CHINA HAVE EMMERGED AS FASTEST GROWING ECONOMIES BECAUSE THEY HAVE HIGHLY INDUSTRIALISED THEIR ECONOMIES.THE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY IS BOOMING AND ITS SUPPORTING AND DRIVING THEIR ECONOMY FORWARD.NO WONDER EVEN THEIR CURRENCIES COMPETE FAVOURABLY WITH THE US DOLLAR.UNLIKE ZAMBIA WHICH HAS THE WEAKEST CURRENCY IN THE REQION IF NOT ENTIRE AFRICA.HOW CAN A COUNTRY THAT CLAIMS TO HAVE A FASTEST GROWING ECONMY HAVE A WEAK CURRENCY,POVERTY AND UNEMPLOYMENT HAVE EQUALLY SKYROCKETED.HOPSITALS HAVE NO PROPER LINEN,EQUIPMENT, DRUGS AND FOOD THE PATIENTS.THE ROADS WHICH WERE TARRED AT A TIME THE ECONOMY WAS STILL VERY SMALL ARE NOW TURNED INTO DUST ROADS.
ZAMBIA THAT IMPORTS EVEN RAZOR BLADES INCLUDING MINERAL WATER CANNOT BE MOVING AT THE SAME LEVEL WITH CHINA AND BRAZIL.

Gongs Jhala revealed his loyalty:

For those who are speculating where my loyalties lie, here is my position. I am not aligned with the “corrupt” MMD, I sympathise with the “tribal” UPND and I fear the “dictatorial” PF. Saying this, I am a realist, the battle for the presidency is between RB and Sata. HH will come third, but if like me you, you think a PF government will be the worst thing that never will happened to Zambia, then please vote for HH.

Global Voices wishes Zambia a peaceful election period.

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