Opinion: Lungu’s government can not organise free and fair elections

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By Sir APM Lukwesa, Zambia

Zambia’s General elections will be held on 12 August 2021 to elect the President, Members of Parliament, Mayors/Council Chairpersons and councillors.

The President is elected via the two-round system while the rest are elected by the first-past-the-post system in single-member constituencies, districts and wards.

There are sixteen candidates registered to run for the presidency although the race seems to be between Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front Party (PF) and Hakainde Hichilema popularly known as HH by the people of Zambia, of the United Party for National Development (UPND).

In 2016, the PF had its strongholds in Luapula, Northern, Eastern, Copper belt and some parts of Lusaka provinces. Now, the case is not the same this year. Due to the country’s political and economic instabilities (political violence, human rights violation, inflation, depreciation of Kwacha and high levels of unemployment) the electorates have shifted their hope from the ruling party to the opposition political parties which has now given the UPND advantage to create strongholds in the abovementioned provinces in addition to their Northwestern, Western, Southern and part of the Central provinces.

Harry Kalaba of the Democratic Party (DP) has a following in some parts of Luapula province while Fred Membe of the Socialist Party has support in Lusaka District and some parts of Western province.

Based on my view that the current regime wants to retain power throughout 2021-2026, I do not expect
the comprehensive economic and institutional reforms that are required to resolve the country’s ongoing economic crisis.

However, we expect the forthcoming elections to be neither free nor fair, with the
UPND competing against the PF exploiting substantial incumbency advantages. Given that this is Mr Hichilema’s and Mr Lungu’s last chance to contest for president, the announcement of another term for Mr
Lungu, would be likely to spark major unrest in opposition strongholds (where
the election results would be disputed).

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