Zambia Swears In New President

Newly elected Zambia President Hakainde Hichilema waves at the crowd after taking oath of office at the Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on August 24, 2021. Salim DAWOOD / AFP
Newly elected Zambia President Hakainde Hichilema waves at the crowd after taking oath of office at the Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on August 24, 2021. Salim DAWOOD / AFP

 

Zambia’s newly elected president Hakainde Hichilema on Tuesday promised to rebuild the ailing economy and alleviate poverty as he was sworn in following an election hailed as a milestone for African opposition movements.

“We will grow our economy so we can lift more people out of poverty than ever before,” 59-year-old Hichilema told thousands of jubilant supporters — sporting the red and yellow colours of his United Party for National Development — in the Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.

Hichilema also vowed to restore respect for human rights and liberties eroded under his predecessor.

In his sixth bid for the presidency, Hichilema defeated the incumbent Edgar Lungu, 64, by almost one million votes — a landslide spurred by economic hardship and restricted freedoms under the previous regime.

READ ALSO: Jailed Ex-Chadian Leader Hissene Habre Dies Of COVID-19

The victory is the 17th opposition win in sub-Saharan Africa since 2015 and was achieved despite restricted campaigning and suspected rigging in favour of Lungu’s party.

“We showed the world the resilience of our democracy,” Hichilema exclaimed in a face mask, dark suit and bright red tie.

He recalled that his victory marked Zambia’s third peaceful “transition of leadership” since multi-party democracy was adopted in 1990 — an example for “Africa and the global world”.

‘New dawn’

Lungu and his rival were neck-and-neck in both a snap election in 2015 and in polls in 2016.

But the incumbent’s popularity was sapped by unsustainable infrastructure spending that plunged the copper-rich southern African nation of over 18 million into debt default.

The local kwacha currency plummeted and inflation rose to more than 24 percent, rendering basic goods unaffordable in a country where more than half the population lived in poverty before the pandemic.

Hichilema, fondly known as “HH” or “Bally” — an informal term for father — has vowed to clean up the mess and woo back spooked investors.

“The erosion of our economy, the debt situation has become unsustainable,” he said, stressing that “no Zambians should go to bed hungry” in a country so rich in natural resources.

He announced plans to boost and diversify the mining industry in Africa’s number-two copper producer and “facilitate local ownership”.

He also promised to crack down on political “thuggery” and repression of dissent under Lungu, reassuring independent media that they would no longer face tear gas or shutdowns.

Hichilema himself has run foul of the authorities on numerous occasions, and regularly mentions that he has been arrested 15 times since getting into politics.

“It’s a new dawn,” he said. “The time has come for all Zambians to feel fully free.”

Youth and activism

Many spectators had spent the night at the stadium to secure a seat.

“I came to witness the total burying of Lungu and corruption,” said Mateyo Simukonda, 36, who had travelled from the northern Copperbelt Province, home to the core of Zambia’s mining activity.

“We have now put him to rest and let him rest in peace,” he told AFP, adding that he had been waiting at the venue since 4:00 am.

Among the guests were opposition politicians from the region as well as former and current African leaders.

Zambia becomes only the second country in southern Africa in recent years to transfer its presidency to an opposition candidate after Malawi in 2020.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa of neighbouring Zimbabwe, who attended the ceremony along with his main rival Nelson Chamisa, has already warned opponents not to harbour similar ambitions.

But analysts believe change is picking up on a continent with a history of despotic leadership and democratic weakness.

That change is mainly driven by a dominant young generation of voters more connected to the outside world and less tolerant of restricted freedoms, they argue.

Almost a third of the participants in Zambia’s election were aged between 24 and 34.

Authoritarian leaders “might learn a couple of lessons from this,” Zambian economist Grieve Chelwa told AFP.

Jailed Ex-Chadian Leader Hissene Habre Dies Of COVID-19

FILES) In this file photo taken on July 02, 2013, Former Chadian president Hissene Habre is escorted by military officers after being heard by a judge in Dakar. 
STRINGER / AFP

 

Former Chadian president Hissene Habre, who was serving a life term in Senegal for war crimes and crimes against humanity, has died, Senegalese Justice Minister Malick Sall said Tuesday. He was 79.

“Habre is in his Lord’s hands,” Sall told the television channel TFM.

The Chadian consulate said he had died of Covid-19.

Habre, who ruled Chad from 1982 to 1990, was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity at an African Union-backed trial in the Senegalese capital Dakar in 2016.

He seized power in Chad in 1982, but fled to Senegal in 1990 after he was in turn overthrown.

Habre’s rule was marked by brutal crackdowns on dissent, including alleged torture and executions of opponents.

Some 40,000 people are estimated to have been killed under his leadership of the semi-desert country.

In exile in Dakar, Habre lived a quiet life in an upmarket suburb with his wife and children.

But the former dictator — who was dubbed “Africa’s Pinochet” — was finally arrested in 2013 and tried by a special tribunal set up by the AU under a deal with Senegal.

Habre began serving his life sentence in the Cap Manuel penitentiary in Dakar.

His supporters voiced concerned for his health and pushed for more lenient detention conditions given his advanced age.

Last year, a Senegalese judge granted him a two-month furlough designed to shield him from coronavirus.

Groups representing Habre’s victims recognised his right to be treated humanely, but fiercely resisted preferential treatment for the former dictator.

 

‘Pitiless’

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 29, 1986 Chadian President Hissene Habre is pictured during a conference in Brazzaville, in Congo. Former Chadian
DOMINIQUE FAGET / AFP

 

Reed Brody, a lawyer who represented Habre’s victims, said in a statement on Tuesday that he had been calling “for months” for the former dictator to be vaccinated against Covid.

AFP was unable to independently verify whether Habre had received a jab.

Brody was nonetheless withering about Habre’s legacy, saying he would “go down in history as one of the world’s most pitiless dictators.”

Habre “slaughtered his own people to seize and maintain power… burned down entire villages, sent women to serve as sexual slaves for his troops and built clandestine dungeons to inflict torture on his enemies,” Brody said.

Habre’s conviction in 2016 was seen as a turning point for pursuing rights abusers in Africa, where the International Criminal Court (ICC), located in The Hague, was becoming increasingly unpopular.

The former dictator was ordered to pay up to 30,000 euros ($33,000) to each victim who suffered rape, arbitrary detention and imprisonment during his rule, as well as to their relatives.

 

 

 

 

 

Buhari Congratulates Zambia’s President-Elect, Hichilema

A photo combination of Zambia’s President-Elect, Hakainde Hichilema and President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has felicitated the President-elect of Zambia Hakainde Hichilema for winning the presidential election.

Hichilema, Zambia’s opposition leader, was on Monday declared the winner of last week’s bitterly contested presidential election.

He defeated the incumbent President Edgar Lungu by a landslide – more than a million votes.

Reacting shortly after the declaration of the result, President Buhari commended Zambians and noted that the prospect of a united, stable, and prosperous Africa lies in the power of the people to freely elect their leaders.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, the President said the citizens “came out in their numbers to exercise their civic rights, voting candidates of their choice.”

READ ALSO: Zambia’s Lungu Concedes Defeat To Challenger Hichilema

He also praised the outgoing President Edgar Lungu for accepting the outcome of the elections and a peaceful transfer of power.

While highlighting the close and historic relationship between Nigeria and Zambia, Buhari said he “looks forward to working very closely with the Zambian President-elect for the peace, development, and prosperity of both nations”.

 

Zambia’s Opposition Leader Hichilema Wins Presidential Vote At Sixth Attempt

Supporters of Zambian presidential candidate for the opposition party United Party for National Development (UPND) Hakainde Hichilema celebrate his election as Zambian President in Lusaka, on August 16, 2021. Salim DAWOOD / AFP
Supporters of Zambian presidential candidate for the opposition party United Party for National Development (UPND) Hakainde Hichilema celebrate his election as Zambian President in Lusaka, on August 16, 2021. Salim DAWOOD / AFP

 

Business tycoon and opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema was on Monday declared winner of the hotly contested presidential election in debt-burdened Zambia.

With 155 of 156 constituencies reporting, official results showed Hichilema had captured a landslide of 2,810,757 votes against 1,814,201 for President Edgar Lungu.

“I therefore declare the said Hakainde Hichilema to be president-elect of the Republic of Zambia,” electoral commission chairman Justice Esau Chulu said in a televised address.

The 59-year-old veteran opposition politician beat his long-time rival Lungu following a bruising race held against the backdrop of deteriorating standards of living.

Lungu, who has been in office for six years, had tried to retain his mandate despite growing resentment about rising living costs and crackdowns on dissent.

As president, Hichilema — who has an economics degree and has promised to rebuild investor confidence — will face an economy wracked by high debt, inflation and unemployment. Last year, the copper-rich southern African nation became the first country on the continent to default on its debt in the coronavirus era.

This is the sixth time Hichilema has run for the top job and the third time he has challenged 64-year-old incumbent Lungu, who just narrowly won their last contest in 2016.

Shortly after results were declared, Hichilema tweeted a picture of himself standing in front of a crowd with the caption “Thank you Zambia”.

‘He has done it’

Thousands of Hichilema supporters flocked onto the streets of Lusaka, erupting into song and dance.

They cheered, whistled and waved party flags, marching towards the international conference centre where the results were announced.

“I am so excited, finally he has done it! Tonight we are celebrating Bally’s victory,” said 21-year-old Rosemary Malunga, referring to Hichilema by his nickname, which means father in local slang.

Elated and at times rowdy, the supporters chanted “let’s go Bally”.

Hundreds took their victory lap to the entrance of the presidential residence, where soldiers and police kept guard.

Zambian presidential candidate for the opposition party United Party for National Development (UPND) Hakainde Hichilema gives a press conference at his residence, in Lusaka on August 11, 2021. Patrick Meinhardt / AFP
Zambian presidential candidate for the opposition party United Party for National Development (UPND) Hakainde Hichilema gives a press conference at his residence, in Lusaka on August 11, 2021. Patrick Meinhardt / AFP

 

Hichilema enjoyed the backing of 10 opposition parties, which threw their weight behind his United Party for National Development (UPND).

But Lungu, who came to power in 2015 snap elections to finish the term a president who died in office, has claimed Thursday’s vote was neither free nor fair.

In a statement issued through the president’s office, he alleged that his party’s polling agents were attacked and chased from voting stations.

Parties that backed Hichilema on Sunday scoffed at the “unsubstantiated” allegations, and urged Lungu to concede.

 Call for peace

Known by his initials “HH”, Hichilema on Sunday called for peace.

“We voted for change for a better Zambia that’s free from violence and discrimination,” he said.

“Let us be the change we voted for and embrace the spirit of Ubuntu (humanity) to love and live together harmoniously.”

Zambia has earned a reputation as one of Africa’s most stable democracies where every transition of power has been peaceful since the former British colony adopted its multi-party system in 1990.

International election observers have commended the transparent and peaceful organisation of the polls, which saw a high turnout of around 70.9 percent.

But they also criticised restrictions on freedom of assembly and movement during campaigning.

Security forces blocked Hichilema from campaigning in several areas, including the strategic Copperbelt Province, citing breaches of coronavirus measures and a public order act.

Lungu also deployed the military following pre-election clashes and reinforced the army presence in three provinces after two deaths were reported on election day.

Social media access, restricted in the capital Lusaka just as Hichilema cast his vote, was restored on Saturday following a court order.

 

AFP

Zambia Opposition Leads Early Vote Count, Sitting President Cries Foul

Officers from the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) count ballot papers at a polling station in Lusaka on August 13, 2021, following presidential and legislative elections seen as test of the country's democractic credentials after a tense campaign dominated by economic woes and a debt crisis. Patrick Meinhardt / AFP
Officers from the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) count ballot papers at a polling station in Lusaka on August 13, 2021, following presidential and legislative elections seen as test of the country’s democractic credentials after a tense campaign dominated by economic woes and a debt crisis. Patrick Meinhardt / AFP

 

Zambia’s main opposition candidate was leading Saturday in partial results for a tight presidential election while incumbent leader Edgar Lungu cried foul in three provinces.

Following a high turnout in Thursday’s vote, Hakainde Hichilema, 59, was ahead of Lungu, 64, in about 40 percent of the constituencies announced so far, even as EU observers said campaign conditions had been “unequal” and favoured the incumbent.

This is the third time Hichilema has challenged Lungu in what analysts said would be a closely-fought election amid growing resentment about rising living costs and crackdowns on dissent in the southern African country.

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has so far released the results of 62 out of 156 constituencies, which put Hichilema ahead with 1,024,212 votes, compared to 562,523 for Lungu.

Both the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party and main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) claim their respective candidates are in the lead, citing their own tabulations.

Hundreds of UPND supporters marched through the capital Lusaka on Saturday, voicing impatience at the ECZ.

Soldiers deployed to police Thursday’s vote following violent pre-election clashes monitored the scene from armoured military vehicles.

Voting dragged on late into the night and saw sporadic clashes and troop reinforcements in three provinces after two deaths were reported on election day, including a ruling party chairman.

Zambia's incumbent president Edgar Lungu (C) casts his vote at a polling station in Lusaka on August 12, 2021, as they country holds presidential and legislative elections. Patrick Meinhardt / AFP
Zambia’s incumbent president Edgar Lungu (C) casts his vote at a polling station in Lusaka on August 12, 2021, as they country holds presidential and legislative elections. Patrick Meinhardt / AFP

 

Lungu on Saturday said the violence, which was concentrated in UPND strongholds, rendered the election unfair.

“With polling agents having been attacked and chased from polling stations, we were reduced to competing in seven (out of ten) provinces,” he said in a statement, adding that the PF was “consulting on the next course of action”.

Some analysts have expressed concern that Lungu might not accept anything other than victory.

Social media access, throttled in Lusaka just before Hichilema cast his vote, was fully restored on Saturday following a high court order.

The final outcome is set be announced within 72 hours of the last polling station’s closing time, meaning the wait could stretch to early Monday.

‘Transparent’ vote

There has been widespread concern about election rigging.

Scuffles occurred at several polling stations after people were accused of carrying pre-marked ballot papers, which the ECZ has denied.

The head of the African Union’s observer mission, Ernest Bai Koroma — a former president of Sierra Leone — on Saturday said voting “operations were conducted in a peaceful, transparent and professional manner”.

European Union counterparts were slightly more critical of the poll, denouncing the internet curbs and “unequal campaign conditions”.

Zambian presidential candidate for the opposition party United Party for National Development (UPND) Hakainde Hichilema gives a press conference at his residence, in Lusaka on August 11, 2021. Patrick Meinhardt / AFP
Zambian presidential candidate for the opposition party United Party for National Development (UPND) Hakainde Hichilema gives a press conference at his residence, in Lusaka on August 11, 2021. Patrick Meinhardt / AFP

 

The electoral process was “technically well-managed” but “marred by… restrictions on freedoms of assembly and movement, and abuse of incumbency”, chief observer Maria Arena told a press briefing.

Security forces blocked Hichilema from campaigning in several parts of the country, including the strategic Copperbelt Province, citing breaches of coronavirus measures and a public order act.

Around seven million people were registered to vote, the majority aged between 24 and 34, out of a population of over 17 million.

Alongside the president, they also elected a parliamentary representative, a mayor and local councillor.

Hichilema is running for the sixth time, backed by an alliance of ten opposition parties.

AFP

Zambian Opposition Leader Says Arrest Was Political

Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema waving to his supporters after being released from prison after treason charge against hime were dropped in Lusaka.  Image: DAWOOD SALIM / AFP

Zambia’s main opposition leader on Thursday condemned his four-month imprisonment for alleged treason as an abuse of the criminal justice system by his political opponents.

Hakainde Hichilema was released from custody two weeks ago after being detained for allegedly failing to give way to President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade.

“It is not because the police have done an investigation, it is because a member of the ruling party has instigated the police to arrest this citizen,” Hichilema said.

“You cannot have a criminal justice system that operates like that.”

The charges were widely seen as part of a crackdown on dissent by Lungu’s Patriotic Front government.

Hichilema, leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND), was speaking at a joint press conference in Cape Town with South African opposition leader Mmusi Maimane.

Hichilema said he was “surprised” by his release as he was looking forward to being acquitted by the courts.

He was freed on August 16, when all charges were dropped hours before the start of his trial.

Hichilema, who narrowly lost last year’s election and refuses to recognise Lungu as president, recounted details of his “brutal” arrest in April.

He said that more than “200 policemen, heavily armed with machine-guns” and assisted by German shepherd dogs surrounded his house and “poison-gassed” him, his wife and children for 10 hours.

Maimane, head of the Democratic Alliance party, was in May barred from entering Zambia after he landed in Lusaka airport to attend one of Hichilema’s pre-trial court hearings.

AFP

Obasanjo Urges Zambian Govt. To Follow Rule Of Law In Dealing With Opposition

Xenophobia Attacks: Obasanjo Lays Blame On SA Government
Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo.

A former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has appealed to the Zambian government to adhere to the rule of law and human rights principles, in dealing with the opposition in the Southern African country of Zambia.

The appeal is coming on the heels of the report, which broke early on Tuesday that the house of the main opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, was allegedly broken into by the Government Police and other Paramilitary Agencies with the purpose of arresting him without any warrant.

Obasanjo, in a statement signed by his Media Aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, said it was in the best interest of the country to maintain the rule of law and human rights principles, which are recipes for peace, stability and development not only in the Southern African country, but the entire African continent.

“Early Tuesday, the news broke that the Zambian Government Police and other Paramilitary Agencies broke into the house of the opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, to effect his arrest without any warrant.

“Special appeal is being made to the Government of Zambia to ensure that the rule of law is followed without Bach of human rights in dealing with the opposition leader of the stature of Hakainde Hichilema.

“It is in the best interest of the country in ensuring that the rule of law and human rights principles are followed to ensure peace, stability and security, which are fundamental basis for development, which all Africans require at this point in time”, he stated.

Lungu To Be Sworn In As Opposition Misses Election Challenge Deadline

Lungu_ZambiaZambia will press on with swearing in its president, Edgar Lungu, for another five-year-term next week, after the opposition missed a deadline to challenge his re-election, a senior official said on Monday.

Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema had filed a petition in constitutional court last month, saying the Aug. 11 vote was rigged and Lungu’s victory should be annulled. But he missed a Friday deadline to present evidence to back up his charge, and the top court ruled on Monday not to extend the time limit.

Hichilema’s UPND party said it rejected the ruling.

“We wish to put it on record that we have not lost an election, neither have we lost the petition which was before the Constitutional Court,” the party said in a statement.

“We have rejected the court ruling in that the judgment was passed on an application from the respondents without allowing us to respond,” it said, without outlining its next move.

Lungu, who won 50.35 percent of the vote according to the official results, will take the oath of office on Tuesday next week, later than the original Aug. 23 date, cabinet secretary Roland Msiska said.

Lungu has been the head of the ruling Patriotic Front since its leader, Michael Sata, died in 2014. He won the presidency the following year, defeating Hichilema in their first electoral confrontation.

Zambia is Africa’s second-largest copper producer, and slumping commodity prices have afflicted it with mine closures, rising unemployment, power shortages and soaring food prices.

Zambian Opposition Official Denies Threatening President, Freed On Bail

zambiaA leading member of Zambia’s main opposition party denied threatening President Edgar Lungu with violence and was released on bail on Monday.

Geoffrey Mwamba, Vice-President of the United Party for National Development, was arrested on charges of inciting violence against Lungu last week. Police said he had threatened to “go for his throat”.

“I deny the charge,” Mwamba told a packed courtroom, without going into further details. If convicted, he faces a maximum of five years in prison, a lawyer said.

Political tensions are mounting before presidential, parliamentary and local elections in August.

Mwamba was also arrested then released by the police last week on separate charges of training party supporters to become an illegal militia.

President Lungu a fortnight ago accused the opposition of training party supporters to cause violence during the elections.

Mwamba also denied that charge and his party said that the arrests of 21 of its members on similar accusations were meant to intimidate the opposition before presidential elections.

Both Lungu and United Party for National Development leader, Hakainde Hichilema, are seen as front runners.

Zambia To Hold Elections On August 11

ZambiaThe government of Zambia has announced that the country will hold its presidential and parliamentary elections on August 11, 2016.

The date is specified in the country’s new constitution which is due for ratification and the President’s assent.

The announcement of the election date was made public on Monday by the Presidential Spokesperson, Amos Chanda.

The incumbent President, Edgar Lungu, is expected to stand for election in a possible neck-in-neck contest with his 2015 major opponent, Hakainde Hichilema.

Hichilema, a wealthy economist of the opposition, United Party for National Development (UPND) was defeated by President Lungu, who is a lawyer by 48.3% of the vote to 46.7%.

As the crucial news in Zambia is about the country’s elections, the other is a sharp reversal in the increase in electricity tariffs.

Presidential Election Holds In Zambia

Zambia
Zambians queue to cast their ballots for the Zambian Presidential elections at Kanyama primary in Lusaka on January 20, 2015. AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

Voting began on Tuesday for the next president of Zambia, one of Africa’s most promising frontier markets, in what shaped up as a tight race between a populist lawyer and a wealthy economist.

Edgar Lungu, leader of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), is seen having a slight edge over main rival, Hakainde Hichilema, a businessman whose United Party for National Development (UPND) has won over the middle-class and investors.

The two candidates had promised to improve the economy and create jobs in the country.

The winner would serve out the remaining 18 months of Michael Sata’s term as Zambia is due to hold a general election in 2016.

Former President, Michael Sata, passed away in October 2014 and Vice President Guy Scott became acting President of Zambia.

Observers have said that the election has been largely peaceful.

Counting of the ballots would begin shortly after polls close with results due to be announced within 48 hours.

Zambia is Africa’s biggest copper producer after Democratic Republic of Congo. Its mining sector had experienced a boom in recent years with the economy averaging a 6 to 7 percent growth.

It however slowed to to 5.5 percent in 2014 from being one of the world’s best performing economies.