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Advocacy For Poor Credited For Zambia Opposition Leader's Victory

Zambian opposition leader Michael Sata leaves an election results centre in Lusaka (File).
Zambian opposition leader Michael Sata leaves an election results centre in Lusaka (File).

In Zambia, supporters of long-time opposition leader Michael Sata are jubilating following his victory over incumbent President Rupiah Banda in Tuesday’s presidential election.

Election officials said late Thursday that Sata had received 46 percent of the total votes cast compared to 36 percent for President Banda.

Chibaula Silwamba, senior journalist at the Zambia Post newspaper, said Sata’s victory can be attributed to his consistent advocacy for policies that benefit the poor.

“Definitely I think it is his consistency of the policy that he was articulating, particularly those that impact on the lives of the poor. For your own information, I think about 67 percent or 65 percent of the Zambian population lives in abject poverty, less than a dollar a day,” he said.

Silwamba said Sata supporters have been rejoicing over their leader’s victory.

“People are celebrating; in fact the celebration started long [before] he was declared winner. But when he was declared winner, everyone went in the street jubilating, they danced, hugged one another in celebration of their leader who has been elected president after three attempts at the presidency,” he said.

In Africa where opposition candidates rarely win presidential elections, Silwamba said the Sata victory should send a strong message throughout the continent.

“I think the message that is being sent through this election of Mr. Sata is that there can be a peaceful transition in Africa,” he said.

In light of the global economic downturn, Silwamba said Zambians will be looking to Sata to deliver on his campaign promises.

“I think the expectation will be very high on Mr. Sata because he promised to so many people that he is going to change a number of things within the period of three months, 90 days. So, I think the expectation is extremely high on him, and he has to do a lot of work for him to prove to the people that he meant it when he promised them he will uplift their Africa, ”Silwamba said.