Zambian lawyer Edgar Lungu addresses his supporters ahead of the January 20 presidential by-election.
LUSAKA, ZAMBIA (JANUARY 19, 2014) (REUTERS) – Zambian lawyer Edgar Lungu addressed a large crowd of Patriotic Front (PF) supporters on Monday (January 19) ahead of the presidential by-election on Tuesday (January 20).
The premature election comes after the death of Michael Sata, leader and founder of the ruling Patriotic Front party, who died in office aged 77 in October.
Supporters believe Lungu is the right candidate to be the country’s president to pick-up where Sata left off.
“I believe in PF because Mr Michael Sata did very good work, so I believe Mr Lungu can continue with what Mr Sata believed,” said John Mwansa a Lungu supporter.
While Mary Sakala believes Lungu will make changes to help Zambian women.
“We know his group and we believe he can change some of the problems we face as women in Zambia. We believe in that. We’ve seen ever since they were voted into power, we saw some changes mainly in hospitals, and in some places there were no maternity wings,” said Salaka.
Lungu’s rapid rise from backroom politician to presidential front-runner in one of Africa’s most promising frontier markets has revealed tactical nous and a steely determination that few knew lay beneath his quiet exterior.
With another election due in 20 months when Sata’s first term would have ended, the winner will have little time to overturn a host of economic problems.
“The same way my boss (Michael Sata) loved you is how I will love you. The same way he suffered to take this country forward is how I will suffer for you,” added Lungu.
However, Zambia’s copper industry, the spluttering motor of one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, has been at the heart of campaigning for Tuesday’s presidential election and poses a big headache for the country’s next leader.
“We want living standards to be affordable so that each and every one of you is proud of being Zambian. We just don’t want to talk a lot and anyhow, we want to listen to you and work,” said Lungu.
Hit by plummeting metal prices, accusations of corruption and a hike in taxes, mining companies say production and jobs are at risk unless the new president steps in.
The 58-year-old lawyer, is seen as the favourite over Hakainde Hichilema, 52, a cattle herder-turned-economist whose United Party for National Development has been wooing the middle-class and investors.
The stakes are high for Mr Lungu’s ruling Patriotic Front, which goes into the vote badly fractured by a bitter power struggle after Sata’s death in October, three years into his five-year term.