A campaign poster for leading opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development.

TENSIONS are getting out of control as Zambia prepares to go to one of the most hotly- contested elections in the country’s history.

Tempers flared this past weekend when the main parties traded blame on a number of killings linked to the pre-election violence.

The ruling Patriotic Front (PF) of incumbent, Edgar Lungu, and the United Party for National Development (UPND), led by businessman Haikande Hichilema, are the main contenders for the August 12 polls.

A report by PF that it had unearthed a plot by UPND to cause mayhem on the two days leading to the elections has added to the strains.

This past weekend, the ruling party accused its rival of murdering an unnamed PF member in the western region of Nalikwanda.

Suspected UPND cadres also allegedly damaged the PF Kaoma District office, burning office furniture and assaulting party members.

UPND has meanwhile laid to rests a party member, Joram Thole, allegedly murdered by PF supporters in Mandevu Constituency.

“The PF is bloody thirsty and we need to vote them out before we lose more lives,” Anderson Banda, the UPND Lusaka Province youth chairman.

PF alleged UPND was organising 60 000 youths in Lusaka to cause chaos on August 10 and 11.

It is alleged the youths would illegally occupy the Heroes Stadium, prompting the police to stop the meeting that would be illegal under COVID-19 protocols.

According to the ruling party, the UPND would the youths to Mandevu and Matero.

“They will burn vehicles, they burn people’s tuntemba (smallshops) and they will also kill people,” Antonio Mwanza, the PF Media Director, alleged.

UPND is accused of training the young people and grooming them into a militia.

The opposition party has slammed PF.

“As UPND youths, we are baffled at the PF’s appetite for concocting lies through misleading statements and media rhetoric that our party is violent,” said Phinias Pumulo, the UPND Deputy National Youth spokesperson.

The youth publicist added; “May we warn Mr Mwanza that no amount of chickenry and fake accusations will bar, late alone prevent President Hichilema from ascending to the country’s Presidency on 12th August.”

Lungu narrowly defeated Hichilema in the 2015 poll, held after the death of then-president Michael Sata, and the 2016 general election. Violence followed both outcomes after UPND alleged vote rigging. – CAJ News