|Candidate (party)||No. of votes||% of votes|
|Michael Sata (PF)||1 150 045||43.33%|
|Rupiah Banda (MMD)||961 796||36.23%|
|Hakainde Hichilema (UPND)||489 944||18.46%|
|Charles Milupi (ADD)||13 382||0.5%|
|Elias Chipimo (NAREP)||10 190||0.38%|
|Tilyeni Kaunda (UNIP)||9 713||0.37%|
|Edith Nawaki (FDD)||6 627||0.25%|
|Ng'andu Magande (NMP)||6 097||0.23%|
|Godfrey Miyanda (HP)||4 358||0.16%|
|Frederick Mutesa (ZED)||2 191||0.08%|
After competing for the second time against his old foe, Rupiah Banda, Michael Sata was finally able to defeat Zambia’s long-serving president at the polls to become the country’s newest president. Sata, founding member of the Patriotic Front (PF) garnered a majority 43.33% of the vote through promises of a better life, which appealed to the 60% of Zambians who live under $2 a day. Banda trailed with 36.23% of the vote.
Sata was sworn in as Zambia’s fourth President on September 23, 2011, by the country’s Chief Justice Ernest Sakala.
Zambia’s presidential electoral system is decided by means of a first-past-the-post system, where an absolute majority is not required. The President is elected by direct popular vote for a five-year term.
Although the election was considered free, fair and transparent by electoral observers, there were isolated incidents of unrest that resulted in the death of two people. The violent flare-ups occurred in some of Lusaka’s slums and some towns within the country’s Copperbelt, which are traditional PF strongholds, owing to the slow pace of results being released. PF supporters protested over the postponement of results, which they interpreted as a ploy by the ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) to rig the outcome of the vote.
It was later revealed by electoral authorities that the postponement was due to their systems being hacked, which led to the delay in the release of provisional results. Despite the deaths, the Zambian police have been lauded for containing the situation and preventing any further loss of life or damage to property.
The King Cobra
Sata, who has dedicated most of his political career to toppling his counterpart, Banda, has coined the nickname King Cobra, owing to his sharp tongue and criticism of corruption in the Zambian government. He is regarded as a fierce critic of foreign mining firms, mostly from China, who benefit from the country’s copper industry. He is reportedly also a fierce critic of the labour conditions, which workers are subjected to in these mines.
Despite this criticism, Sata toned down his anti-Chinese rhetoric during the elections race, so as not to scare off investors. Once sworn in, one of Sata’s first moves as President was to reassure investors that they were welcome to invest in the country’s copper sector, but only if they obeyed the law, specifically by employing more Zambian workers.
He pointed out that Chinese investment was welcome, but it would not receive preferential treatment, even though Chinese companies had ploughed more than $2-billion into the developing mining sector. Sata did not go into the foreign labour issue; however, Zambian workers are disgruntled over the fact that Chinese building projects predominantly employ Chinese labourers.
After 20 years in power, the ruling MMD was unable to convince the Zambian electorate to give its leader another term. The growing poverty levels and the need for change tilted the political power in favour of Sata. In the electoral race, Sata provided promises for a better life to all Zambians, which resonated with the country’s poor and working class.
The promises of creating jobs, improving education and stopping foreign exploitation essentially convinced the voting majority that Sata should be President. The real challenge for the new President lies in translating these promises into real change for the Zambian people, something he says will occur in 90 days. This will involve balancing his political ambitions with economic realities.
BBQ Online. Zambia election (September 26, 2011).
News24. Obey rules, Zambia’s Sata tells China (September 26, 2011).
BBC News. Zambia election: Sata wins presidential race (September 23, 2011).
African Elections Database. Elections in Zambia (September 26, 2011).
The Guardian. Zambia: a smooth changeover at last to King Cobra (September 25, 2011).