Zam­bia in­au­gu­rates sixth pres­i­dent

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion/analysis - Anal­y­sis Kiz­ito Sikuka

ZAMBIAN Pres­i­dent-elect, Edgar Lungu is ex­pected to be in­au­gu­rated this week as Zam­bia’s sixth pres­i­dent since the coun­try got its in­de­pen­dence from Britain on 24 Oc­to­ber 1964. Pres­i­dent took over power in 2015 af­ter a pres­i­den­tial by-elec­tion fol­low­ing the death of for­mer pres­i­dent Michael Sata in 2014. He was on Mon­day de­clared win­ner of the 11 Au­gust pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to fi­nal elec­tions re­sults re­leased by the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of Zam­bia (ECZ) on Mon­day, Pres­i­dent Lungu of the rul­ing Pa­tri­otic Front (PF) gar­nered a to­tal of 1,860,877 votes against 1,760,347 polled by his clos­est ri­val, Hakainde Hichilema of the main op­po­si­tion United Party for Na­tional De­vel­op­ment (UPND).

This was enough to se­cure at least 50 per­cent of the valid votes as per the amend­ment to the Zambian Con­sti­tu­tion adopted in Jan­uary.

Pres­i­dent Lungu amassed 50.3 per­cent of the valid votes cast against Hichilema got 47.67 per­cent of the votes.

Un­der the pre­vi­ous Zambian Con­sti­tu­tion, the pres­i­dent was elected using a first-past-the post sys­tem un­der which the can­di­date with the high­est num­ber of votes was elected, even if they scored less than 50 per­cent of the valid votes cast.

The re-elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Lungu also means that the in­cum­bent Vice-Pres­i­dent Inonge Wina, who was his run­ning mate, re­tains her po­si­tion.

In the past, a vice-pres­i­dent was ap­pointed by the pres­i­dent. In this re­gard, the in­tro­duc­tion of run­ning mates to the new Con­sti­tu­tional will al­low the vice-pres­i­dent to be­come pres­i­dent in the event of the in­cum­bent be­ing in­ca­pac­i­tated to lead the coun­try.

Un­der the con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment, the vice-pres­i­dent can as­sume power for the re­main­der of the pres­i­dent’s ten­ure.

Such a de­vel­op­ment avoids the need for early elec­tions as was the case last year fol­low­ing the death of Pres­i­dent Michael Sata in Oc­to­ber 2014. Early elec­tions were also held in Oc­to­ber 2008 af­ter Pres­i­dent Levy Mwanawasa died in June of the same year.

Most re­gional and in­ter­na­tional elec­tion ob­servers de­ployed across the coun­try to ob­serve the closely con­tested polls have said the elec­tions were held in con­form­ity with re­gional and in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

A pre­lim­i­nary state­ment re­leased by the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (Sadc) Elec­tion Ob­server Mis­sion (SEOM) said the elec­tions were cred­i­ble and praised Zam­bians for the peace­ful at­mos­phere prior and dur­ing the poll.

“The aim of the mis­sion was to as­sess the level of pre­pared­ness of the coun­try to hold the 2016 Gen­eral Elec­tions,” said the SEOM headed by Oldemiro Baloi, Mozambican For­eign Af­fairs and Co­op­er­a­tion Min­is­ter.

“In this re­spect, the mis­sion es­tab­lished that the po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere and se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment were gen­er­ally con­ducive for hold­ing peace­ful elec­tions.”

A to­tal of 49 Sadc ob­servers, who were di­vided into 12 teams, were de­ployed to all the 10 prov­inces of Zam­bia to ob­serve the elec­tions in three phases: the pre-elec­tion pe­riod, elec­tion-day and post-elec­tion phases.

The SEOM was guided by pro­vi­sions and re­quire­ments of the Zambian Con­sti­tu­tion, as well as the Sadc Treaty, the Sadc Pro­to­col on Pol­i­tics, De­fence and Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion and the Sadc Prin­ci­ples and Guide­lines Gov­ern­ing Demo­cratic Elec­tions.

A pre­lim­i­nary re­port is­sued by the Com­mon Mar­ket for Eastern and South­ern Africa ob­server mis­sion con­curred with the SEOM re­port, adding that “Elec­tion Day was com­mend­ably char­ac­terised by a gen­er­ally peace­ful at­mos­phere and high voter turnout in­clud­ing that of women, el­derly and the youth.”

“The mis­sion com­mends the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of Zam­bia for un­der­tak­ing its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties ef­fi­ciently be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter the polls lead­ing to the suc­cess­ful hold­ing of com­plex polls con­ducted un­der a new con­sti­tu­tional dis­pen­sa­tion; and also on its ef­forts to en­sure a se­cure and free process through­out the elec­tions.”

Re­gional and in­ter­na­tional elec­tion ob­servers have urged Zam­bia to main­tain the peace af­ter the polls to en­sure so­cioe­co­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

How­ever, the UPND has raised con­cerns over the trans­parency of the elec­tions.

A to­tal of 4,426,369 peo­ple had reg­is­tered to vote in the 11 Au­gust elec­tions. How­ever, only 2,492,999 cast their vote ac­cord­ing the ECZ. This trans­lates to a voter turnout of 56.32 per­cent.

In ad­di­tion to Pres­i­dent Lungu and Hichilema, seven other can­di­dates con­tested the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

These are for­mer Fi­nance Min­is­ter Edith Nawakwi of the Fo­rum for Democ­racy and De­vel­op­ment, who was the only fe­male can­di­date and got 24,149 votes; Ti­lyenji Kaunda of the United Na­tional In­de­pen­dence Party (8,928 votes); and for­mer jus­tice min­is­ter Wyn­ter Kabimba leader of the Rain­bow Party (9,504 votes).

Saviour Chishimba of the United Pro­gres­sive Party (9,221 votes); Peter Sinkamba of Green Party of Zam­bia (4,515 votes); Andy­ford Banda of the Peo­ple’s Al­liance for Change (15,791 votes); and Maxwell Mwamba of the Demo­cratic As­sem­bly (2,378 votes) com­plete the list of pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates.

Re­sults for par­lia­men­tary elec­tions are still be­ing counted and will be an­nounced soon.

Among the 650 par­lia­men­tary can­di­dates who con­tested the 11 Au­gust elec­tions, a to­tal of 109 con­tested as in­de­pen­dents.

The his­toric 2016 gen­eral elec­tions were held con­cur­rently with a ref­er­en­dum to de­cide on whether the Zambian Con­sti­tu­tion should be amended to en­hance the Bill of Rights as well as re­peal and re­place Ar­ti­cle 79 that deals with is­sues that need to be put to a ref­er­en­dum.

Un­der Ar­ti­cle 79, only the Bill of Rights and the Ar­ti­cle it­self re­quire the hold­ing of a ref­er­en­dum in or­der to amend them.

The pro­posal is to broaden the is­sues re­quir­ing ref­er­enda, to in­clude changes to the elec­toral sys­tem, the pres­i­den­tial term, elec­tion of the vice pres­i­dent, and ap­point­ment of cab­i­net min­is­ters and provin­cial min­is­ters.

The amend­ment of the con­sti­tu­tion is meant to, among other ob­jec­tives, pave way for the re­vi­sion of the Bill of Rights to in­clude civil, po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic, so­cial, cul­tural, en­vi­ron­men­tal, fur­ther and spe­cial rights. —sardc.net

Edgar Lungu, right, is sworn in as pres­i­dent on Jan­uary 25, 2015. He will be sworn in this week af­ter be­ing re-elected

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