Zambia’s opposition leader Hichilema is president-elect

Hakainde Hichilema

Zambia’s opposition leader and businessman Hakainde Hichilema who was early August 16, 2021 declared president-elect after beating incumbent Edgar Lungu.

Photo credit: Patrick Meinhardt | AFP


Zambia’s opposition leader and businessman Hakainde Hichilema was early Monday declared president-elect after beating incumbent Edgar Lungu in the August 12 poll.

Mr Lungu, 64, called the vote not “free and fair” and his Patriotic Front party was consulting on the next course of action.

He had by Monday not conceded defeat despite his assurance to AU observer delegation leader Bai Koroma who met him at State House in the capital Lusaka.

It was Mr Hichilema’s fifth attempt at the presidency under the United Party for National Development since it was formed in 1998.

Zambia's electoral commission chairperson Esau Chulu declared Mr Hichilema, who garnered 2,810,757 votes — translating to 59.38 per cent — against Mr Lungu’s 1,814,201 (38.33 per cent) the winner.

One constituency remaining

He announced the results with 155 out of 156 constituencies reporting, saying the results from the remaining one constituency would not materially influence the outcome.

After the official announcement was made slightly before 2.35am, Mr Hichilema’s supporters went into a frenzy, popping champagne in celebration.

The party’s chairman for elections Garry Nkombo praised Mr Hichilema’s tenacity and resilience, adding that the president-elect will not witch hunt his opponents.

“Mr Hichilema is a Christian and he also knows that vengeance is for God,” he said.

The election was marred by sporadic chaos with two people dying in the violence.

Mr Hichilema, an economist trained at the University of Zambia and a former CEO of an accounting firm before entering politics, is faced with a tough task of turning around the economy in the copper exporting country, a premise on which he campaigned winning young people’s vote who turned out in their thousands to cast their ballots.

Mr Hichilema, 59, is the first southerner to win the presidency, which has been dominated by the north.

Seventh president

He becomes Zambia’s seventh president since it gained independence from Britain in 1964.

Zambia’s economy has floundered under the watch of the Patriotic Front party founded by former president Michael Sata who died in 2014. Youth unemployment and unsustainable fiscal policies led to public dissatisfaction.

Mr Lungu succeeded Sata, winning two elections before his loss in the latest election.

Zambia has had a relatively smooth transition of power and it is unclear if Mr Lungu will petition the vote.

The country had a population of 18 million people with 7.2 million registered voters.