Zambia’s Opposition Leader, Hakainde Hichilema Takes Office

In a triumph for democracy and a victory hailed over authoritarianism, the newly-elected Zambia’s leader Hakainde Hichilema takes office on Tuesday after a comprehensive election victory.

Hakainde Hichilema, 59, will take the oath of office before a crowd that will notably include opposition politicians from regional countries as well as current and former African leaders.

Hichilema defeated the incumbent Edgar Lungu on his sixth bid for the presidency by almost one million votes a landslide spurred by economic hardship and restricted freedoms under the previous regime.

The victory is the 17th opposition win in sub-Saharan Africa since 2015.

It occurred despite restricted campaigning and suspected rigging in favour of Lungu’s party.

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Voter turnout on August 12 was nearly 71 percent, and many Zambians queued late into the night to cast their ballots.

Lungu and his rival were neck-and-neck in both 2016 polls and a 2015 snap election.

But the incumbent’s popularity was sapped by unsustainable infrastructure spending that plunged the copper-rich southern African nation of over 18 million inhabitants into debt default.

The local kwacha currency plummeted and inflation rose over 24 percent, rendering basic goods unaffordable in a country where more than half the population lived in poverty before the pandemic.

Hichilema, fondly known as “HH” or “Bally”, an informal term for father has vowed to clean up the mess and woo back spooked investors.

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