Presidential by-election today


Zambians are voting in a very interesting Presidential election today. The election is, in effect, a by-election, to vote in a new President until the Presidential term is up in September 2016. The election has been called because of the death of President Michael Sata on 28th October 2014. He was replaced, temporarily by his Vice-President, Guy Scott, but Scott cannot stand because his parents were not of Zambian birth.

The lead up to the campaign saw conflict in the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) which appears to have done the party some damage. Justice and Defence Minister Edgar Lungu wanted the nomination but was in conflict with Guy Scott who wanted another nominee. Eventually the matter was decided by the courts in favour of Lungu but not before the party had suffered defections and political damage.

The party which had ruled the country from 1991 to 2011, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) also found itself in conflict. Rupiah Banda, who had been President of Zambia from 2008 to 2011, announced that he was the official MMD candidate, but the President of the party, Nevers Mumba, announced that he was the party candidate. Again the decision was decided in court in favour of Nevers Mumba, but the former ruling party is in serious trouble and may not even make it into third place this time.

The most likely candidate to defeat Edgar Lungu is Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND). He has run a very efficient campaign although this will be his third attempt; in 2011 he was third with 18.17% of the vote and in 2006 he took 25.3% and third place. His major problem is that his support has been limited to the south and predominantly the Tonga people. He is also seen as being part of the rich elite in the country.

Whoever wins will have just 19 months to govern before going back to the polls. That means that for the next year and a bit the country is going to be in election mode. Don’t expect tough economic decisions to be taken; do expect the winner to secure jobs within the copper mining industry and for other populist measures to be enacted whatever the cost.

Although the election is really between Edgar Lungu (PF) and Hakainde Hichilema (UPND), there are a total of eleven candidates standing as follows:

Eric M Chanda; 4th Revolution (4R)
Elias Cm Chipimo; National Restoration Party (NAREP)
Hakainde Hichilema; United Party for National Development (UPND)
Tilyenji C Kaunda; United National Independence Party (UNIP)
Edgar C Lungu; Patriotic Front (PF)
Godfrey K Miyanda; Heritage Party
Nevers S Mumba; Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD)
Edith Z Nawakwi; Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD)
Daniel M Pule; Christian Democratic Party (CDP)
Peter C Sinkamba; Green Party of Zambia
Ludwig S Sondashi; Forum for Democratic Alternatives (FDA)

The 6,456 polling stations will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time for the 5,166,088 eligible voters to cast their vote. Zambia does not have any provisions for Zambians living abroad to vote.

There is no second round runoff in Zambian elections; the vote is ‘first past the post’ meaning that the candidate with the largest number of votes today will be declared the winner. Full results are expected about 48 hours after polls close.

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