Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema largely won the country’s presidential election, the electoral commission announced on the night of Sunday August 15 to Monday August 16.
The race had been announced tight for weeks but the historic opponent, nicknamed “HH”, thus beats outgoing president Edgar Lungu by nearly a million votes, who has led the country since 2015. Mr. Hichilema won a total of 2,801,757 votes against 1,814,201 for Mr. Lungu, said Esau Chulu, president of the commission.
Only one of 156 constituencies in the southern African country has not been officially counted but the commission estimated that whatever its results, this “Did not risk influencing” on Mr. Hichilema’s victory.
The ballot took place Thursday, at the end of a tense campaign, against a backdrop of inflation and economic difficulties. The turnout, very strong at over 70%, confirms the enthusiasm for this ballot, during which some offices remained open until 5 a.m. to allow voters queuing up since the end of the afternoon to vote. .
Fourteen other candidates were in the running, but the race was played mainly between MM. Lungu, 64, and Hichilema, 59, a self-taught and charismatic businessman who was running for the sixth time. In 2016, Mr. Hichilema lost just over 100,000 votes.
The two men have crisscrossed the landlocked southern African country, rich in copper, since May, despite a campaign limited by restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. The rising cost of living has eroded the support base of the outgoing president, a trained lawyer, criticized for having borrowed unsustainably, especially from Chinese creditors, to launch major infrastructure projects. Inflation soared to over 20% under his presidency and, at the end of 2020, Zambia became the first country in Africa to be in default since the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Before arriving at the head of state, Hakainde Hichilema was the very figure of the eternal opponent, always second. The perseverance of this businessman who started from nothing but today at the head of a great personal fortune, has finally borne fruit.
The one the street also nicknames “Bally”, an affectionate term reserved for fathers or elders, has lost every regular or early election held in the country since 2006, but has increased its percentage of the vote with each attempt. Arrested fifteen times since he became involved in politics, he spent four months in solitary confinement for ” treason “ after refusing passage to a presidential convoy just after the 2016 election.
An eloquent speaker, Mr. Hichilema led a skillful social media campaign and worked hard to shed his elitist image, swapping his tailored suits for more casual fatigues or jeans. He promised to turn the economy around, and provide Zambians ” a better life “.
“It pains me to see citizens go to bed without having eaten in such a country”, he explained, lamenting the under-exploited potential of the natural resources of Zambia, the second largest producer of copper in Africa. “Assets worth billions of dollars bring nothing … to improve our lives”, he insisted.
“Guts” and “determination”
Born in 1962 in a poor family in the south of the country, it is his “Notch” and his “Determination” at school, he says, which earned him a landmark scholarship to the University of Zambia. He graduated in economics and business management, before continuing his studies with an MBA at the University of Birmingham in England. At the age of 26, he is CEO of the Zambian branch of an international accounting firm.
He started in real estate, gradually investing in finance, animal husbandry, health and tourism. “HH” has served on the boards of several large Zambian companies.
His detractors see him as a “Outsider” politician, an entrepreneur in economic jargon who was catapulted to the head of the UPND party, which he was already financing, upon the death of its former leader in 2006. Christian from the Tonga ethnic group, and patron in his spare time, he finances schools and pay the tuition fees of disadvantaged children.
The Canadian News
Canada’s largets news curation site with over 20+ agency partners