Zambia’s electoral board announced Hakainde Hichilema, a Zambian entrepreneur and opposition leader, the winner of the presidential election held on 12th August, defeating current Edgar Lungu. He got 2,810,757 votes against Lungu, who had 1,814,201 votes in 155 of 156 counties.
Celebrations across the country accompanied Hichilema’s victory after an election that was impaired by irregular violence. The president-elect has a challenging task of changing the economy of one of the poorest countries in the world. It is believed that many of the voters were young people. The youths claimed that the election was a protest vote, a protest for hope and transformation.
This is the sixth time Hichilema had vied for the seat and the third time he had run against incumbent Lungu. He was a chief executive officer at an accounting company before he got into politics. In the previous election, he lost to the 65-year-old Lungu by nearly 100,000 votes. Lungu faced the electorate in the middle of increasing bitterness about the high cost of living and suppression of differences of opinion in the country. He has been in power for six years, and he was running for the second term.
Hichilema received support from ten opposition parties at Thursday’s poll under the banner of his party- United Party for National Development (UPND) – the most influential opposition in the southern African nation.
Lungu started claiming the election was neither free nor fair before the results were announced, referring to the cases of violence reportedly to be Hichilema’s supporters. A statement released through the president’s office purported that his party’s agents were attacked and scared off from polling stations. Leaders from Hichilema’s party disregarded the statement, saying it came from people trying to dismiss the entire vote just to remain in office.
According to the Zambian constitution, if Lungu wants to raise a dispute or nullify the votes, he must present his complaint before the Constitutional Court within seven days of results annunciation.
International polls observers have praised the transparency and peaceful conduction of the elections. However, they have said the restrictions on freedom of movement and assembly during the election campaign were not fair. Security officers did not allow Hichilema to campaign in some regions, referring to violation of COVID-19 regulations and a public order policy.
Turnout at the elections was approximated to over 70 percent of the registered voters.
Zambia had deployed an army to control escalating political violence during the elections campaign. Occasions of violence were reported in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, and northern, southern, and Michinga areas where the strongholds of the ruling party and the opposition party had attacked each other with axes, machetes, slashers, and other weapons. Two Lungu’s supporters were chopped to death by attackers reported to be Hichilema’s followers, said police. Four people were detained regarding the murders.
Lungu allowed the Zambia Army, Air force, and national service to assist the police in curbing the political violence. “Maintaining law and order is a day-to-day role of the police, but sometimes they need assistance from other security bodies,” Lungu declared.