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Five million Zambians expected at polls today

2015-01-20  Mathias Haufiku

Five million Zambians expected at polls today
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By Mathias Haufiku WINDHOEK – Africa’s second largest copper producer Zambia holds its presidential by-election today to choose the next head of state to succeed the late Michael Sata who died last October. Sata, dubbed ‘King Cobra’ because of his venomous tongue, died in a London hospital at the age of 77. 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 lists a total of 5.1 million voters. Sata’s successor will become the country’s sixth president since independence in 1964. Kenneth Kaunda first held office, followed by Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa, Rupiah Banda and Sata. Guy Scott is currently heading the country in an acting capacity. The winner of today’s polls will serve the remainder of Sata’s term, which runs till September 2016. In order to qualify 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. The candidates are Tilyanji Kaunda, Hakainde Hichilema, Ludwig Sondashi, Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda, Edgar Lungu, Elias Chipimo, Peter Sinkamba, Dan Pule, Nevers Mumba, Erick Chanda and the only female candidate Edith Nawakwi. Lungu and Hichilema are seen as the forerunners in what is regarded as a two-horse race. Earlier this month during the official launch of the SADC Electoral Observer Mission held in Zambia, head of mission Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said SADC electoral observation missions have made a meaningful contribution to the consolidation of democracy in the region, through sharing lessons learnt and best practices. Nkoana-Mashabane who also serves as South Africa’s Minister for International Relations and Cooperation said it is the mission’s expectation that the elections will continue to contribute to the enhancement of democracy in the SADC region. 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.
2015-01-20  Mathias Haufiku

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