16th August, 2021
Zambia’s opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema has secured a stunning landslide victory over incumbent Edgar Lungu, according to results announced today
The electoral commission said Hichilema got 2,810,777 votes against Lungu’s 1,814,201, with all but one of the 156 constituencies counted.
Esau Chulu, electoral commission chairman said at Lusaka’s result centre: “I therefore declare that Hichilema to be president of Zambia”.
Hichilema, who clinched victory in his sixth attempt, said he would address the media at 12 noon, Zambia’s time.
This is the third time that power has shifted peacefully from a ruling party to the opposition since Zambia’s independence from Britain in 1964.
Across Zambia, celebrations broke out in the streets as Hichilema’s supporters wearing the red and yellow of his United Party for National Development (UPND) danced and sang, while drivers honked their horns.
Hichilema, 59, a former CEO at an accounting firm before entering politics, now faces the task of reviving Zambia’s fortunes.
The economy has been buoyed only slightly by more favourable copper prices – now hovering around decade highs, driven partly by the boom in electric cars.
In 2020, Zambia, Africa’s second biggest copper miner, produced a record output of the metal.
International Monetary Fund support is on hold until after the vote, as is a debt restructuring plan seen as an early test for a new global plan aimed at easing the burden of poor countries.
Lungu, 64, has yet to concede defeat, and has indicated that he might challenge the result.
Lungu on Saturday alleged that the election was “not free and fair” after incidents of violence against ruling Patriotic Front Party agents in three provinces.
UPND officials dismissed Lungu’s statement as emanating from people “trying to throw out the entire election just to cling on to their jobs”.
Hichilema, who has described himself as just an ordinary “cattle boy”, has contested and lost every election held in the southern African country since 2006, though he has been buoyed each time by an increased share of the vote.
In 2016, he unsuccessfully challenged the result of the presidential election, which he said was stolen from him after he narrowly lost by 100,000 votes.
This time around, the 59-year-old opposition leader latched onto widespread dissatisfaction with Lungu’s running of the economy, campaigning under the slogan “faka pressure” — meaning “put pressure” for change.
Hichilema is no stranger to controversy in the copper-rich nation, having run afoul of the authorities numerous times.
He regularly mentions that he has been arrested 15 times since getting into politics.