Zambia's Banda expects win in vote
Johannesburg - Zambia's president Rupiah Banda expects his MMD party to score an easy victory in an election in Africa's biggest copper producer that he says will be coming in a matter of months.
Speaking on Tuesday in Johannesburg at the Reuters Africa Investment Summit, Banda also said he was concerned about neighbouring Zimbabwe, where calls for an early poll by President Robert Mugabe have touched off fresh violence between political rivals.
"I expect to win. My wish and my hope is that we win with a larger margin than what happened the last time when I stood as president (in 2008)," he said.
Banda would not give a date for the poll but said it was "coming soon", indicating it would take place before September.
He described a union of the two main opposition parties as a "concern", but said his administration's economic record - growth last year was 7%, and should be the same this year - should see him through comfortably to a second term.
"We should come out with a bigger majority," he said.
In a sign of his confidence, Banda ruled out imposing populist windfall taxes on copper mining companies that are currently reaping major profits with prices hovering at record highs.
Banda hosts a regional meeting on Zimbabwe later this month, and said he wants to see co-operation between the two major rivals in the country who were forced into a unity government two years ago after elections there resulted in violence.
Mugabe, forced into a unity government with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is pushing for presidential and parliamentary elections this year, about two years ahead of schedule.
"We are very concerned about what is happening in Zimbabwe," Banda said.
MDC officials said an early poll could lead to a bloodbath and deal a crushing blow to a nascent economic recovery. It called for a new constitution and electoral reforms to be put in place before a new election.
"We have to get the people of Zimbabwe to work together. All of them should be happy with the conditions on the ground," he said.
"We have a responsibility to attend to these problems, not only for them but also for ourselves. We need peace in that country."