Hakainde Hichilema is a very wealthy business magnate in Zambia who had sought the presidential seat 6 times before winning in this year’s election. Hichilema won with a margin of over one million votes beating the incumbent, now former president, Edgar Lungu undoubtedly. Hichilema is seen as a business-minded individual and many in the country, especially the youth, see him as capable of reinvigorating Zambia’s economy. As with all of Africa, a majority of Zambia’s population is under the age of 35, and Hichilema to them is exactly the kind of person the country needs to ensure a solid future for them.
Lungu's Misgivings Boost Hichilema's Bid for Presidency
Hakainde Hichilema’s pursuit of the presidency was somewhat boosted by Edgar Lungu’s failure. Former president Lungu had been seen to heavily clamp down on dissent even going as far as to conduct surveillance at the University of Zambia. He also ran down the country’s economy, cozying up to the Chinese and letting them take advantage of the country’s copper, its only substantial source of foreign income. Mr. Lungu was also seen to be out of touch with the needs of the youth and failed to inspire them enough to get their votes. He was a president who did not seem to care enough about the plight of his people, the common people, and the youth, to ensure that he does all he can to bolster the country’s economy.
From Cattle Rancher to President
Hakainde Hichilema, on the other hand, comes from rural Zambia and is seen as someone who understands what the people are going and have been going through. As a success story himself, he is seen as someone who is rooted enough to do all he can to see the country’s economy change for the better. Even in his home region, Monze District, Hichilema is respected as he is a cattle rancher in the region and has helped create jobs for the locals. He is seen as a man who has the charm and the wit to ensure that Zambia has a better future.
A Fair and Credible Election for Zambia
Zambia’s election was lauded as a fair and credible one and was largely peaceful even as there had been some clashes. Edgar Lungu came out and conceded the election once Hichilema won, set a good precedent, and did the noble thing to ensure peace. He even went as far as to call Hichilema his “brother”. In Africa and in an African country, that is really commendable. Hats off to Lungu and we wish him the best.
A Huge Challenge Ahead for Hakainde Hichilema's Government
Hichilema has a huge task in front of him and an economy such as Zambia, with a highly devalued currency, the Zambian Kwacha, will not be a walk in the park to turn around. He requires a mix of good governance, a halt to corruption, and a charm to inspire those around him to do good for the economy. He will also be tasked with uniting the country and rolling back some of the injustices committed under Lungu’s leadership. For instance, Lungu’s regime relocated a good number of Zambians to really low-standard and almost uninhabitable homes to pave way for Chinese projects.
China's Growing Influence in Zambia and its Takeover of the Copper Industry
Those relocated had not even been compensated for their land. There have also been concerns that Lungu’s government allowed China and Chinese companies to take over most industries in Zambia, chief among them the copper industry, and mistreat workers. There were also concerns that Chinese copper refineries were allowed to emit dangerous chemicals into the environment.
These, among many other concerns, will be in Hichilema’s in-tray and Zambians expect him to roll back some of the injustices of the past regime and weed out corruption. In an already reeling economy, corruption only comes in to stifle progress and even lead to more dilapidation for the citizens of a nation. We wish president Hichilema all the best and we hope he will do right by Zambia.