Hichilema wins over economically troubled Zambia

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  • Opposition leader won the election with over 2.8 million votes
  • He inherits an economy scarred by debt and high inflation
  • Aims to achieve economic growth of 10% within five years of his election

Harare – After five unsuccessful bids at presidency since 2006, Zambia’s main opposition leader and business tycoon Hakainde Hichilema has clenched the top job in a heated election in which the state of the country’s economy took center stage.

Zambia’s electoral commission confirmed that Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND) managed to accrue 2 810 777 votes compared to 1 814 201 amassed by outgoing Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front (PF), significant of a gap of almost a million votes.

The other 14 candidates who also contested in the election, collectively only managed to garner less than 50 000 votes.

Hichilema immediately faces off with challenges of stabilizing the Zambian economy, debt restructuring and addressing unemployment.

In his campaign, Hichilema said he can achieve an economic growth rate of more than 10% for Africa’s second biggest copper producer within five years if he’s elected, mainly by growing the mining, agriculture, construction and manufacturing industries.

Due to the adverse effects of COVID-19, the country’s economy is reported to have contracted by 4.9% in 2020 after growing by 1.9% in 2019 and is expected to just narrowly avoid recession in 2021.

However, more than half of the Zambian population was reported to have been living under the poverty datum line even before the pandemic.

Meanwhile, at 25%, the country’s annual inflation is at its highest in 20 years.

At the same time, the country has an estimated debt of over US$11 billion and late last year it became the first African nation to default on its debt payment in the coronavirus era after bowing out of a US$42.5 million Eurobond repayment.

Unemployment in the country has also been gradually rising since 2012 and is expected to reach 15% by the end of 2021.

The president-elect has to make strides in that regard considering the massive youth turnout in this election which saw young people aged 35 and younger making up over 50% of the registered voters.

However, they are notable economic developments that took place during the decade Lungu’s PF ruled Zambia especially in terms of infrastructure.

Although on a debt card, Zambia managed to build new power stations, airports, new schools, hospitals and most recent and notable the Kazungula Bridge which was built over the Zambezi River to connect the country and Botswana and costed about US$260 million.

Equity Axis News.

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