Zambian opposition leader Hichirema wins presidential election


Lusaka-Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu admitted defeat on Monday after an overwhelming victory by opposition leader Hakainde Hichirema, who faces the challenge of reviving the economy in the midst of turmoil.

Counting all constituencies except one, Hichirema received 2,810,777 votes against Lung’s 1,814,201, and the Electoral Commission declared him president. This marked the third peaceful transfer of power in the country to the opposition.

“I will comply with the constitutional provisions for the peaceful transition of power, so I would like to congratulate my brother, President-elect, His Excellency Hakainde Hichirema.”

After the celebration, Hichirema, 59, a former CEO of a pre-political accounting firm, will need to focus on reviving a slumping economy.

Zambia became Africa’s first pandemic sovereign default in November after not catching up with international debt repayments.

“There is no doubt what the instructions are for all of us (you) … elect us in a very difficult time,” he hints at future challenges when he speaks to supporters of the capital Lusaka. I did. Don’t let you down. “

The default was caused by falling commodity prices that pushed Zambia into recession long before the COVID-19 pandemic, which was exacerbated by the pandemic itself.

Hichirema encourages unity

He has room for maneuverability, as the economy has risen slightly due to this year’s rise in copper prices and is now at its highest in about 10 years, partly driven by the electric car boom. Last year, Zambia, Africa’s second-largest copper mine worker, produced record production of metal.

Nonetheless, Hichirema urged the Zambians to condemn the attack on property and set aside the division after the looting of the mall, named after the incumbent.

“For years we were victims of retaliation. We are about to … start a new wave of violence,” he said. “If you want to show a higher moral basis … don’t attack them.”

The election is the culmination of a fierce conflict between the two who were arrested and imprisoned for Hichirema in 2017 because Lung refused to give way to his convoy. This is President Hichirema’s sixth attempt since 2006.

He advertised his national success, even at Lung’s base, which is recognized as evidence that Zambia avoided ethnic division. “The victory … has been brought by all 10 states of Zambia … isn’t it nice?” He applauded.

Lung shouted a foul on Saturday, calling the election “free and unfair” after violence against the ruling agents on the Patriotic Front in three states, but disputed the results in court because of the large margins. That was almost impossible.

Presidential election Hakainde Hichirema will hold a press conference on August 16, 2021 at his residence in Lusaka, Zambia. (Patrick Meinhardt via Getty Images / AFP)

Power switched from the ruling party to the opposition two times ago since its independence from Britain in 1964. The latest shift strengthens Zambia’s democratic confidence and sets an example for a continent with a spotted history of peaceful change.

Wearing the red and yellow of the United Party for National Development (UPND) in Hichirema, Hichirema’s supporters celebrated, danced, sang and the driver horned.

“This victory is very sweet,” said 37-year-old Jane Phili next to her market stall. “The spirit of this change has long been bottled.”

Zambia’s sovereign dollar bond soared nearly two cents on Monday following news of Hichirema’s victory. Zambian kwacha currency has risen nearly 1% against the dollar.

Support from the International Monetary Fund is pending until after the vote, as is debt restructuring, which is considered an early test of a new global program aimed at reducing the burden on poor countries.

Chris Mufra