The ghost of Sata in Zambia’s Presidential election

Edgar Lungu votes
Edgar Lungu votes

“WE WILL continue with Sata’s style of leadership without fear or favour,” Edgar Lungu (pictured above to the right) told cheering masses rallying in Kitwe, a town at the heart of Zambia’s Copperbelt. To punctuate his point he threw a punch into the air, a signature salute of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF).

Throughout Mr Lungu’s campaign ahead of a presidential by-election on January 20th the leader of the ruling party has tapped into the sympathy and popular support for President Michael Sata, who died in October. Mr Lungu’s association with the fiery president, who was known as “King Cobra” because of his caustic tongue, might be enough to take him over the line in the vote.


The contest to lead the copper-rich nation is thought to be a two-horse race between Mr Lungu and a former lawyer and cattle-herder-turned-businessman, Hakainde Hichilema (known as HH), who leads the United Party for National Development (UPND).

Mr Lungu, a 58-year-old justice and defence minister, entered the presidential race after an embittered power struggle within the ruling party. Opposing Mr Lungu’s candidacy was Guy Scott, who had been Sata’s vice president and took over as acting president after his death. Mr Scott, who is barred from running for president himself because his parents were not Zambian-born, tried to oust Mr Lungu from the party and install his preferred candidate. Acrimonious squabbling has splintered the ruling party, a factor that may thwart the country’s progress if the PF retains power.

Mild-mannered by contrast with Mr Sata, Mr Lungu promises to pursue the late president’s policies that were aimed at helping the poor and developing infrastructure. Conveniently, fuel prices dropped three days before the election saving voters 23% per litre at the pump.

Snapping at his heels is Mr Hichilema, 52 (pictured above to the left), who has come third in the past three elections. Mr Hichilema, a wealthy businessman who owns the second largest cattle ranch in the country, is focused on diversifying the economy, creating jobs, encouraging investment, cutting corruption and slimming the bloated civil service.

Despite past flops and a lack of government experience, Mr Hichilema has benefited from the defection of politicians from rival parties riddled with factionalism. Among these is the former governing party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). Nevers Mumba, an evangelist running for president as a candidate for the MMD, has been hobbled by the defection of a former president Rupiah Banda, who now backs the PF.


“It is too close to call. But the ruling party has an advantage as they are standing on solid ground, for them campaigning began a longtime ago when the late president was undertaking serious infrastructure projects all over the country,” says political analyst Dr Alex Ng’oma. “For rural communities, the development was unprecedented.”

The victor will only govern the copper-dependent nation for the remaining 18-months of Mr Sata’s term before national elections next year. Yet he and successive governments have their work cut out trying to trim excessive public spending. The country’s budget deficit, at 5.5% of GDP in 2014, is unlikely to fall to 4.6% as planned next year, reckon economists at the International Monetary Fund. This deficit has undermined confidence in the currency, the kwacha, which plummeted last year. Moreover falling copper prices—the metal now sells for $5,662 per tonne down from $7,400 a year ago—are also putting strain on the economy. Copper accounts for about 70% of Zambias exports and 13% of GDP, but at current prices the industry is barely viable. The Zambia Chamber of Mines reckons that nine out of 11 copper mining companies are running at a loss at current copper prices.

Yet instead of supporting the industry, politicians are squeezing it even harder than before. The government recently decided to triple mining royalties—a move that Jackson Sikamo, the president of the Zambia Chamber of Mines, says could lead to 12,000 job losses. Mr Hichilema has pledged to reverse the mining royalty tax that took effect this month.

Yet there is little hope that this election will deliver the certainty and stability that businessmen desperately crave. Once this election ends, jostling will likely begin for power in the next election in 2016.


[The Economist Newspaper Limited 2015]



2015 Presidential Elections :

Awaiting results … if you hear any credible result update  email us on [email protected]

By-Elections Since 2011

The results of the by-elections since the 2011 Tri-Partite Elections are as follows:

Latest Tri-Partite Election Results

Latest Tri-Partite Election Results and allocation of National Assembly and Local Government Seats are listed below:


Article 38(1) of the Constitution of Zambia states that ‘if the office of the President becomes vacant by reason of his death…, an election to the office of the President shall be held in accordance with Article 34 within ninety days from the date of the office becoming vacant.’

Following the death of the Republican President, His Excellency Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata on 28th October, 2014, and in accordance with this provision, the Acting President, His Honour Dr. Guy Scott, announced 20th January, 2015, between 06:00 and 18:00 hours as the date of the Presidential Election.

The Electoral Commission of Zambia subsequently set 17th – 23rd December, 2014, as the nomination dates. Eleven candidates successfully filed their nomination papers.

Key Dates on the Election Timetable:

1. Campaign period: 19th November, 2014 to 19th January, 2015 at 18:00 hours.

2. Accreditation of local monitors will be decentralised to the districts and that of international observers will be done from Lusaka.

The accreditation period:
International Observers – 15th December, 2014 to 18th January, 2015
Local Monitors – 15th December, 2014 to 16th January, 2015
Results Centre – 14th January, 2015 to 18th January, 2015

Refer to the Accreditation page for guidelines.


Dates: 28th December, 2014 to 3rd January, 2015

Centres: Four (4) centres in each rural constituency and three (3) centres in each urban constituency. The full schedule of the Centres can be accessed here.


  • Lost voter’s cards: Police report and Green National Registration card.
  • Defaced voter’s cards: Remains of the damaged card and Green National Registration card.

Please Note:

  • NO NEW VOTERS will be registered and NO TRANSFERS will be effected.
  • The period of the voter card replacement exercise WILL NOT be extended beyond 3rd January 2014.

4. Polls date: 20th January, 2015, between 06:00 and 18:00 hours.


[Electoral Commission of Zambia 2015]


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