Over Five Million Zambians Go to the Polls Next Week

Namibia has joined other Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) members to observe the presidential elections in Zambia, as part of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission.

Africa’s second largest copper producer, Zambia, will hold its presidential by-election next Tuesday to vote for a successor to the late Michael Sata who died in October last year.

Namibian delegates arrived in Zambia on January 10 together with fellow delegates from Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa. The elections take place on January 20.

“SADC observers will be visible on voting day to affirm SADC’s commitment and support for democracy to the people of Zambia. It is our expectation and hope that all political parties will, as usual, conduct themselves in a manner that contributes to peaceful and democratic elections,” said Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the head of the SADC Electoral Observation Mission to Zambia, who is also the South African Minster of International Relations and Cooperation.

Mashabane said Zambia has over the years conducted peaceful elections and thus become a beacon of hope in democratic practice and culture.

Zambia’s constitution mandates the country’s electoral commission to hold a presidential by-election within 90 days following the death of a sitting president.

According to the Electoral Commission of Zambia, the current register of voters certified on November 30, 2014 a total of 5 166 088 voters.

The candidates for Tuesday’s polls are Tilyanji Kaunda, Hakainde Hichilema, Ludwig Sondashi, Brigadier General Godfery Miyanda, Edgar Lungu, Elias Chipimo, Peter Sinkamba Dan Pule, Nevers Mumba, Erick Chanda and the only female candidate Edith Nawakwi,

Sata’s successor will become the country’s sixth president since the country’s independence in 1964. The office was first held by Kenneth Kaunda, followed by Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa, Rupiah Banda and Sata.

Guy Scott is currently heading the country in an acting capacity.

The winner of Tuesday’s poll will serve the remainder of Sata’s term which runs till September 2016.

In order to contest Zambia’s presidential election, a candidate must pay the mandatory nomination fee of K10 000 (US$1 500) and have 200 registered supporters to qualify.

Although SADC observers will be visible on voting day to affirm SADC’s commitment and support for democracy to the people of Zambia, Nkoana-Mashabane said the challenge and responsibility of peaceful, free and fair elections lies in the hands of the Zambian people.

Source : New Era