(Reuters) – Zambia’s new President Edgar Lungu on Monday retained Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda to help turn around a stuttering economy, after securing a narrow victory in last week’s presidential poll.
Lungu’s campaign focused on tapping into the grassroots support base of former leader Michael Sata, who died in office in October aged 77. Sata won over the working class by funding infrastructure projects in poor, rural areas.
The reappointment of Chikwanda – a close political ally of Lungu – was widely expected, and also signals the continuity of economic policies introduced under Sata’s rule.
However, with another election due late next year when Sata’s term would have ended, Lungu’s cabinet will have little time to turn around a struggling economy.
The southern African country has averaged 6-7 percent growth as the mining sector boomed but growth slowed to 5.5 percent last year, the International Monetary Fund says, and could ease further with the price of copper at a 6-year low this month.
“I love every part of Zambia and we won’t look at tribe when taking development,” said Lungu while announcing his cabinet, in a country where economic development is often linked to political affiliation.
Lungu also appointed Inonge Wina, a women’s rights activist, as the country’s first woman vice-president and retained Harry Kalaba as the foreign affairs minister .
Lungu defeated his closest rival Hakainde Hichilema who said the election had been “stolen”.
(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by James Macharia)