Copper-rich Zambia plans to more than triple production of the mineral to three million tonnes a year within a decade, President Hakainde Hichilema said on Monday.
Hichilema took office last year with ambitious plans to review mining policies and turn around the economy of the Africa’s second largest copper producer.
He told an annual Africa mining conference in South Africa that his country aimed to respond to the increasing demand for copper due to the use metal’s use in many green energy technologies. s.
“We are determined to respond to the high demand for copper and have an audacious goal to take its annual production levels from the current 830,000 to three million metric tonnes in the next ten years,” he said.
“This is indeed ambitious, but we are confident we can achieve it,” reiterating his government’s investor-friendly policies.
Mining production in the southern African country suffered in recent years due to the hostile relationship between the industry and the previous government.
Europe relies on Russia for copper and copper prices struck record highs on supply fears following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 outgoing leader Edgar Lungu on Monday conceded defeat and congratulated his successor and longtime rival Hakainde Hichilema, who scored a landslide victory in a bitterly contested presidential election.
“I would therefore like to congratulate my brother… Hichilema for becoming the seventh republican president,” he said in a radio address.
Lungu promised to comply with the “constitutional provision for a peaceful transition of power”.
The 64-year-old, who came to power in 2015, said that when he had to serve out the term of his predecessor Michael Sata who died in office, that victory had been “unexpected” and he “accepted it with humility and gratitude”.
“I want to thank you, Zambian people, for giving me a great opportunity to be your president. I will forever cherish and appreciate the authority you invested in me.”
“All I wanted to do was to serve my country to the best of my abilities,” he said, admitting that there are “challenges on the way”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
Vote counting was underway in Zambia on Friday after a hard-fought general election that saw sporadic clashes and troop reinforcements dispatched to three provinces.
The ballot is expected to be the tightest yet in the third successive standoff between President Edgar Lungu, 64, and veteran opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema, 59.
Partial and regional tallies started to trickle in on Friday, with final consolidated results expected by Sunday, although Lungu’s party hinted it was heading for victory.
Thursday’s vote presented a test of democracy in the usually peaceful southern African nation country of more than 17 million people.
Rising living costs appear to have sapped support for Lungu, who is accused of growing increasingly iron-fisted since taking office in 2015.
Hichilema is vying for the top job for the sixth time, this time with the backing of 10 opposition parties.
Violence occurred in North-Western province, a Hichilema stronghold, where two people including a chairman of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party were killed, Lungu announced late Thursday.
He blaming Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND) party.
Zambia’s electoral commission has launched an investigation into the chairman’s murder.
The UPND distanced itself from the case, calling it a “distraction” tactic.
The PF also alleges some of its agents were beaten and chased from polling stations in Southern province.
Lungu, who had deployed the military following pre-election clashes, reinforced troops in those two provinces and in the Western province.
He has already inferred that election-day violence “effectively rendered the elections in… three provinces not free and fair”.
Despite this warning, PF chief Davies Mwila said the party’s own calculation of votes cast in various polling stations “show that President Edgar Lungu is in the lead.”
“We are confident that we shall carry the day,” he said.
Nic Cheeseman, a British political scientist, tweeted on Friday that there were fears Lungu was “exaggerating the extent of violence and instability in opposition regions” in order to justify invalidating results there.
Social media access has been restricted since Hichilema cast his vote in Lusaka, raising eyebrows among the electorate.
Most shops were shut in the capital on Friday where a burning tyre barricade was seen along a highway.
Parliamentary and local government elections took place at the same time as the presidential ballot.
But long queues meant that voting continued long after the official closing time of 6 pm (1600 GMT) — in some cases, the last ballot was cast nine hours afterward.
More than seven million people were registered to vote.
The outcome is expected to hinge on results in Lusaka, a bustling city of more than 3.3 million, and in the central Copperbelt province — key to the economy in Africa’s second-largest copper producer.
Hichilema, who is running against Lungu for the third time, only lost by around 100,000 votes in 2016 and an even narrower margin in a by-election the previous year.
Poll watchers have warned of possible unrest when the results are out.
“The real test will be in the counting process” and whether Lungu will accept a possible eventual defeat, said independent Zambian political economist Trevor Simumba.
Although violence has flared in past elections, all of Zambia’s transitions of power have been peaceful since the adoption of multi-party democracy in 1990.
Zambians will decide Thursday whether to re-elect President Edgar Lungu after the country’s worst economic performance in decades and a crackdown on dissent that has raised fears of unrest in the southern African country.
His main rival, in what polls suggest is a close election race, is 59-year-old Hakainde Hichilema, making his sixth run for the presidency.
Hichilema has already narrowly lost to Lungu twice: in a 2015 by-election after the death of ex-president Michael Sata and then in general polls the following year.
Lungu deployed the army following clashes between the rival supporters in the run-up to presidential and parliamentary polls, a move critics denounced as a tactic to intimidate opposition voters.
Analysts say the result of the closely fought election will set the tone for investment in the copper-rich southern African nation, where more than half of its 17 million people live in poverty.
Surveys suggest economic hardship has eroded support for Lungu, accused of borrowing unsustainably to finance flashy infrastructure projects, as living costs soared.
In the capital Lusaka, Lungu’s green Patriotic Front (PF) party manifestos have dominated billboards lining newly built freeways and overpass bridges. They trumpet “achievements” in construction, agriculture and youth employment.
Opposition voters, whose party colour is red, are keeping a low profile in Lusaka, traditionally a PF stronghold.
Some of them even wear green, the ruling party’s colour, to avoid trouble — known as the “watermelon tactic”.
“We do not feel that safe…there is so much intimidation,” said UPND supporter William Njombo, a 42-year-old pastor volunteering at the party’s headquarters.
– Human rights concerns – Because of the Covid pandemic, only door-to-door campaigning has been allowed this year rather than mass gatherings, although politicians have rallied under the guise of mask-distribution events.
Government critics say the pandemic has been used to thwart the opposition.
Hichilema’s team say they have been barred from entering several parts of the country, including the strategic central Copperbelt Province, their supporters dispersed with tear gas.
There are also concerns about a newly compiled electoral register, which some observers allege is skewed towards PF strongholds, and a controversial cybersecurity law that could be used to block the internet.
“The incumbent regime will stop at nothing to manipulate the vote,” UPND spokesman Anthony Bwalya told AFP.
PF officials did not respond to several requests for comment.
Amnesty International warned in June that repression under Lungu had pushed Zambia to the brink of a “human rights crisis”.
They noted the closure of independent media outlets, the jailing of opposition figures and the police killings of at least five people since 2016.
Hichilema himself claims he has been arrested 15 times since he swapped his business career for politics.
“There is apprehension,” said Zambian political analyst O’Brien Kaaba, unsure whether Lungu would concede a defeat.
“The military on the streets creates new dynamics,” he added.
The US embassy in Lusaka has urged the police and military to “apply the law equally and humanely” in the “competitive election”.
While pre-election violence is not uncommon in Zambia, every transition of power has been peaceful since the former British colony adopted multi-party democracy in 1990.
– ‘Tough moment’ ahead – Both Hichilema and Lungu are campaigning as “people’s politicians” promising jobs and wealth to disillusioned voters.
“Vote for change and a better Zambia”, says Hichilema’s red-and-yellow manifesto, showing him in a suit and matching red tie signalling the “way forward” with his hand.
Over seven million people are registered to vote between 6:00 am (0400 GMT) and 6:00 pm, with the results expected by Sunday.
The results in Lusaka — a city of more than 3.3 million inhabitants — and the central Copperbelt province will be key to determining the winner.
“I pray that we will be able to keep peace,” said Sydney Chilonga, a stylish 21-year-old in sunglasses who sells clothes to get by.
Tension is rising in Zambia ahead of presidential elections next week, prompting an unprecedented deployment of the military to clamp down on violence.
The August 12 ballot is essentially a two-horse race between longstanding adversaries — President Edgar Lungu, 64, and Hakainde Hichilema, 59, who is making his sixth bid for the top job.
Rival supporters wielding axes and machetes have clashed sporadically since campaigning started in May, resulting in at least three deaths, according to police.
All the fatalities were members of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF).
After two were clubbed to death at the weekend, Lungu sent in the army to help the police maintain “law and order”.
“I have taken this step in order to ensure that the electoral process… is not interfered with,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
But the move sparked concern of heavy-handedness.
“It’s clearly an intimidation technique,” said Ringisai Chikohomero, a researcher at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies (ISS) think tank, told AFP.
“Lungu wants something that can tip the balance in his favour and a heavy military presence is likely to do that.”
Violence has mainly been concentrated around Lusaka, traditionally a Lungu stronghold, and in the Northern and Northwestern provinces — respectively bastions of the PF and the largest opposition group, the United Party for National Development (UPND).
Nicole Beardsworth, a politics lecturer at South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand, said the race was “exceptionally tight” and more unrest was likely.
Analysts are divided on the poll’s outcome.
Lungu emerged a narrow victor over Hichilema in snap presidential elections in 2015 and in general polls the following year.
But rising food prices and unemployment have fuelled disillusionment with him.
Critics accuse him of splurging on pricey infrastructure projects and plunging the copper-rich country into Africa’s first debt default of the coronavirus era.
“I can’t support thieves, we have suffered because of them,” said Lusaka resident Josephine Nakazwe, 23, selling cellphone credit outside a shopping centre.
‘Water melon’ trick
A late 2020 survey by independent pollster Afrobarometer found a significant drop in the number of PF voters compared to a similar study in 2017, although this did not translate into a surge of support for the UPND.
Rights groups say Lungu’s government has grown increasingly intolerant of dissent, detaining opposition figures and cracking down on protests, and darkening the prospects for a credible vote.
“This is the first time government is deploying soldiers to police the electoral process,” said University of Zambia fellow O’Brien Kaaba.
“Should the election be disputed and should there be protests, the president may not hesitate to order the use of military force,” he warned.
Zambia is no stranger to pre-election violence. Similar clashes occurred in 2016, although no deaths were reported, and the opposition disputed the results.
To protect themselves from being targeted by their rivals, opposition supporters are known to wear the green regalia of the PF rather instead of their own red colours — a ruse commonly referred to here as the “water melon trick”.
“I’m wearing this because I’m scared of being beaten by the PF,” said Amos Mwale, 18, out in Lusaka in a white T-shirt with Lungu’s portrait printed on the front. But “come voting day we are removing them out of power,” he insisted.
Several UPND events have been blocked and dispersed with teargas for allegedly flouting coronavirus restrictions, prompting party officials to claim the police is under orders to sabotage their work.
Only door-to-door campaigning is authorised due to the pandemic, although large crowds have been spotted at “mask distributions” led by both sides.
The regime has “run out of credibility and support from the people,” UPND spokesman Anthony Bwalya told AFP. “They are deploying brutal tactics to silence the opposition.”
“These state security forces do play into politics,” said Zaynab Mohamed of a consultancy firm, Oxford Economics. “They are highly politicised.”
Elections will be held the same day for the single-chamber legislature, the National Assembly.
In the 2016 legislative elections, the PF had a wafer-thin majority over the UNPD, with less than half a percentage point in terms of votes cast.
But the party was able to gain an overall majority of the 156 contested seats under a first-past-the-post electoral system.