Hakainde Hichilema, the opposition leader in Zambia has been declared the winner of last week’s presidential election.
Mr Hichilema defeated the incumbent president Edgar Lungu with a landslide victory of more than a million votes.
Supporters of Mr Hichilema have been celebrating his victory on the streets. This was Mr Hichilema’s sixth attempt at winning the presidency and his supporters have been celebrating on the streets of the capital Lusaka since his victory was declared.
The Patriotic Front, Mr Lungu’s party has already accepted defeat and congratulated Mr Hichilema However, Mr Lungu had earlier alleged that the election was not free and fair.
Mr Lungu said officials from his Patriotic Party were chased away from polling stations, leaving votes unprotected.
Results announced by the electoral commission indicate that Mr Hichilema won the election 2,810,777 votes while Mr Lungu got 1,814,201 votes. Over seven million people had registered for voting.
Mr Lungu had been in power for six years during which his rule was criticised for corruption, massive unemployment, a failing economy and human rights abuses.
Youth key in Hichilema victory
Mr Hichilema’s victory sparked jubilant celebrations among his supporters most of whom are youth who have been eager to bring a political change in Zambia.
Unlike in past elections where the youth in Zambia were accused of being reluctant to vote, they turned up in large numbers with majority backing Mr. Hichilema. The youth generally rejected Mr Lungu due to his government’s failure to solve their major problems like unemployment. They made this clear even to the new president as they chanted “we want jobs,” while celebrating his victory.
Hichilema’s victory marked Zambia’s third transfer of power to an opposition candidate, becoming one of a few African democratic countries.
Who is Hakainde Hichilema?
Mr Hichilema was born on June 4 1962 in Monze, southern Zambia. He grew up in humble beginnings but managed to get a scholarship to the University of Zambia where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and business administration in 1986.
He pursued further studies in the United Kingdom and graduated with an MBA degree from the University of Birmingham. He ventured into business with interests in finance, property, ranching, tourism and healthcare and went on to become one of the richest men in Zambia.
Since 2006, Mr Hichilema has contested in every Zambia’s presidential election and in 2016 he lost to Mr. Lungu by just 100,000 votes. He did not concede defeat and said the election was stolen from him. After the election, Hichilema was put in a maximum security prison after being charged with treason for allegedly refusing to give way to the presidential motorcade.