Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has defeated incumbent Edgar Lungu in Zambia’s presidential election, the electoral commission said on Monday when releasing the final results from 156 constituencies, barring one.
In the final tally, Hichilema secured 2,810,777 votes while Lungu was in second place with 1,814,201 votes, out of 7 million registered voters.
“I therefore declare that the said Hichilema to be president of Zambia,” said electoral commission chairman, Esau Chulu, to a packed results centre in the capital Lusaka.
The massive win meant Hichilema does not have to contest any second round run-offs after meeting the constitutional 50.1% threshold for an outright winner
Voter turnout has been described as unprecedentedly high, with an estimated 71 % of registered voters turning out to cast their ballots. Despite a few isolated cases of violence, the election has largely been considered a success, with monitoring missions commenting on the fair and transparent nature of the democratic process. The European Union described it as a “technically well arranged process”, while the Commonwealth mission determined that the counting procedure was “generally peaceful, procedural, orderly and free from interference”.
This election marks HH’s sixth attempt at the presidency and comes at a time of deepening crisis in Zambia. The 59-year-old businessman inherits a dwindling economy, rising youth unemployment and worsening levels of political violence, spurred on by the cadreism of the ruling Patriotic Front
The opposition leader has repeatedly called for peace during the electoral process, tweeting earlier today “With victory in sight, I would like to ask for calm from our members and supporters. Let us be the change we voted for”.
Hichilema ran on a platform of bringing change to the people of Zambia, both in terms of economic outlook but also in returning the norms of good governance to the country’s democratic institutions. Under President Lungu, the past five years have been characterised by severe democratic backsliding and what Amnesty International has described as “an increasingly brutal crackdown on human rights”.
HH is seeking to undo this damage during the course of his presidency. Earlier he wrote on Facebook, “It has been an arduous journey, this is part of the reason we are seeking office, to do things differently. We voted for change so that the status quo is not maintained. I am very hopeful that together we can make
Investors are closely watching the election in Africa’s second biggest copper producer, which made the continent’s first pandemic-era sovereign default in November.
The COVID-19 pandemic, significant youth unemployment, falling copper prices from Zambia’s mainstay export commodity and unsustainable fiscal policies have led to growing public discontent with Lungu.
Generally agreed support for Zambia from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 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