Claims of fraud as Zambians vote for president

2015-01-20 16:31
A woman shows her ink stained thumb after casting her vote on Presidential election day in Lusaka. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, AP)

A woman shows her ink stained thumb after casting her vote on Presidential election day in Lusaka. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Lusaka - One of the frontrunners in Zambia's presidential elections cried fraud just hours after polling stations opened on Tuesday in a tightly contested race to replace Michael Sata, who died in office last year.

Opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema, 52, of the United Party for National Development (UPND), said some remote parts of the country had not received ballot papers halfway through the polling day.

"Why are there no ballot papers in our strongholds, someone is scheming around. It's fraud," Hakainde told reporters after casting his ballot at a school in Lusaka's affluent Kabulonga suburb.

Hichilema is tipped as the main challenger to Defence Minister Edgar Lungu, 58, who represents the ruling Patriotic Front (PF).

At stake are the remaining year and a half of Sata's five-year term in the copper-rich southern African nation.

Election-weary Zambians, who voted in scheduled elections that brought Sata to power three years ago and are also due to cast ballots next year, formed long queues despite early morning cold weather.

The rivals - Lungu the lawyer and Hichilema the businessman, known as HH - both drew huge crowds at last-minute rallies, but in the absence of opinion polls analysts hedged their bets.

"It's a two-horse race," said Oliver Saasa, CEO of Premier Consult, a business and economic consultancy firm. "It's quite clear this is a very closely run race."

'No need to start afresh'

In Lusaka's Kanyama working class suburb, excited voters applauded and ululated when a presiding officer declared the crowded polling station open.

"My vote is going to make a difference, we are going to remove this ...(PF) family," said 55-year old vegetable vendor Matron Siyasiya. "They can claim all the good work, but God's favour is on my candidate, and that is HH."

But Grace Nyirongo, who runs a food take-away business said she was satisfied with the government and echoed the ruling PF's campaign slogan of continuity.

"We want the government to continue with the projects started by Sata. Frankly there's no need to start afresh," said Nyirongo.

Shortly after the polls opened it began raining heavily in Lusaka, but that did not deter the voters.

Standing in rain-drenched clothes on muddy ground, with no umbrella or raincoat, PF supporter Allan Kabwe's spirits could not be dampened.

Voting patterns

"I know many people will be discouraged, but after I finish voting, I am going door to door to encourage people to come and vote. We have to put Edgar into state house," said the 24-year-old street vendor.

"I hope UPND supporters fail to come."

Hichilema's camp is seen to have received a boost from the infighting within another major opposition party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), whose candidate Nevers Mumba is given little chance.

Lungu's Patriotic Front went into the vote badly fractured by a bitter power struggle after Sata's death in October, just three years into his five-year term.

Two opposing camps - one led by Lungu and another by interim president Guy Scott - nominated rival presidential candidates.

After many weeks of mud-slinging, Lungu emerged as the sole candidate - but of a weakened party.

Scott, Africa's first white leader in 20 years, cannot stand for the presidency himself as his parents were not born in Zambia.

With ideological differences between Zambia's political parties difficult to pin down, voting patterns are often determined by personalities and ethnicity rather than issues.

Despite growth-oriented policies and a stable economy over the past few years, at least 60 percent of Zambia's population of about 15 million lives below the poverty line, according to World Bank figures.

About 5.2 million people are eligible to cast ballots.

Polling opened at 06:00 and is due to close 12 hours later across 6 000 polling stations.

Read more on:    hakainde hichilema  |  edgar lungu  |  guy scott  |  michael sata  |  zambia  |  southern africa  |  zambia elections 2015

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.