Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema secured a stunning landslide victory over Edgar Lungu in Zambia’s presidential election, results showed on Monday 16 August 2021. Zambia’s newly-elected president, Hakainde Hichilema, has been sworn into office after pulling off a stunning rare victory for an African opposition leader. Hichilema was inaugurated Tuesday 24 last month at a ceremony attended by leaders such as Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan and Malawi leader Lazarus Chakwera. Zambia’s second female Vice President Mutale Nalumango was also sworn in during the ceremony.
Hichilema defeated outgoing President Edgar Lungu in a landslide by almost one million votes in his sixth attempt at becoming ruler of Zambia. There’s no doubt that political winds of change were ushered in by young people who are often accused of being reluctant to vote. They turned up in high numbers and generally rejected President Edgar Lungu.”We want jobs, young people want jobs,” chanted throngs of people as they filled the streets of the capital shortly after Mr. Hichilema was declared the seventh president of this copper-rich nation. This will be Zambia’s third transfer of power to an opposition candidate, cementing its place as one of Africa’s most democratic countries, despite the widespread fears ahead of this closely fought election.
Mr. Hichilema has faced problems with authorities since entering politics. After the 2016 election, he was charged with treason for allegedly failing to give way to the presidential motorcade. He spent four months in a maximum-security jail before the charges were dropped. Mr. Hichilema has described himself as an ordinary “cattle boy” and has contested and lost every election held in Zambia since 2006. However, each time he has increased his share of the vote. In 2016, Mr. Hichilema said the election was stolen from him after he lost to Mr. Lungu by just 100,000 votes.
After initially indicating he may challenge the result, Lungu addressed the nation following the elections, saying: “Based on the revelations issued at final results, I will comply with the constitutional provisions for a peaceful transition of power. Despite conceding defeat early, Lungu was booed by some of the crowd as he made his way to the stage at the packed Heroes stadium in the capital Lusaka to hand over power.
Hichilema called Tuesday “a new dawn in Zambia,” in a tweet ahead of the ceremony. “As I sit here in our vehicle being driven to Heroes Stadium, I see the love, the joy, and the jubilation as people line the streets on our way. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. I love you all so much,” he added.
Opposition leaders from other African countries were also invited to the event. Nelson Chamisa, opposition leader in Zimbabwe, told CNN: “This is significant and fantastic for what is possible for the future of Africa. Zambia is an inspiration to stubborn laggards in democracy. Strong institutions are key for effective power transfer and smooth transitions,” he said in a statement when asked during the inauguration. Chamisa added that Zambia is an excellent example to be emulated on the continent.”Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular needs leaders not rulers, strong institutions – not strong men. Leaders must lead and leave, serve and go. Zimbabwe must be free and Democratic. Freedom can be delayed but never denied,” he said when asked what the message for Zimbabwe is.
Mr. Hichilema was born into humble beginnings in the southern district of Monze. He managed to get a scholarship to the University of Zambia, and later graduated with an MBA degree from the University of Birmingham in the UK. He went on to become one of Zambia’s richest men, with business interests in finance, ranching, property, healthcare and tourism.
Author: Mpheza Clara Manda