HH will win August Polls – NKC African Economics research
A South Africa-based NKC African Economics – which specialises in providing forecasts and insights for major African economies predicts that the United Party for National Development (UPND) will win the August polls.
In its research briefing on Zambia’s elections, NKC African Economics says although the outcome of Zambian polls is unpredictable given the unfair environment under which elections are being administered, it’s findings show that 75% of respondents to the poll indicated that their hope for a better country under President Edgar Lungu’s administration is impossible.
“According to a December Afrobarometer survey, 75% of Zambian respondents believe that their country is “going in the wrong direction” and identified management of the economy as one of the most important problems,” the report says in part.
NKC on President Edgar Lungu
“Mr Lungu’s political appeal, like the late Michael Sata’s, is that he is considered to be a man of the people. However, many people believe they are paying for the government’s debt debacle through a devalued kwacha and higher living costs – consumer price inflation surged to 24.6% in June. Some of our sources acknowledge that he has contributed to infrastructure development but say that citizens feel that this will not put food in their stomachs. Earlier this month, Mr Lungu was booed by a crowd in the Northwestern province, where Mr Hichilema won 86.8% of the vote in 2016. Additionally, after losing two presidents who died while they were in office – Levy Mwanawasa in 2008 and Sata in 2015 – Zambians are keeping an eye on Mr Lungu’s physical ability to hold office as well. In June, Mr Lungu collapsed during a military parade at the 45th Defence Force Day Commemoration and Investiture Ceremony in Lusaka. Nor was it the first time he suffered a faint spell in public. Mr Lungu’s campaign for this election has largely consisted of promises to continue to expand social assistance programmes which provide a safety net for the poor. He has also been actively responding to concerns raised by the Mine Workers Union of Zambia regarding outstanding salary payments and has promised to allocate land to mineworkers to build affordable housing.If Mr Lungu wins in August, his administration will continue to create a hostile business environment for foreign companies and suppress civil liberties through the State apparatus”
NKC on Hakainde Hichilema
Mr Hichilema is a well-known former private sector executive (he was CEO of Coopers and Lybrand Zambia, and then of Grant Thornton Zambia), who has unsuccessfully contested five presidential elections since 2006. Over the last three elections, his support has grown significantly and, this time around, he has strategically used his rags to riches story to place himself as a credible alternative as economic conditions become tough for Zambians. Mr Hichilema’s campaign message is that voters cannot trust the current government to fix the economy “when they are responsible for destroying it” and he assures voters that his UPND is “equipped with the right skills” to do the job. At the same time, Mr Hichilema’s businessman image (and wealth) could cost him some votes. During the MMD’s privatisation mission, he was the head of the Zambia Privatisation Agency’s negotiation team. Some leftist sceptics see him as one of a few Zambians who grew rich by enabling foreign companies to benefit from the privatisation of the country’s natural resources, at the expense of the people. If Mr Hichilema wins, we will expect him to offer a more rational leadership style and to break with Mr Lungu’s confrontational attitude to business. He is also expected to comply with IMF requirements more willingly, which will support the debt restructuring deal with the creditor committee – undoubtedly a positive for macroeconomic stability and future foreign investment (especially at a time of high copper prices, which, if the environment is attractive, imply opportunity in the mining sector). After what happened in 2016, victory for Mr Hichilema would widely be seen as evidence that the polls were fair, especially abroad, which would restore faith in Zambian democratic institutions and boost investor confidence. Business and consumer confidence will also benefit from what we expect will be a friendlier environment for the press and civil society. Mr Hichilema has said that, if he is unsuccessful in August, he will not run for another term – meaning that a loss now would be the end of Zambia’s most prominent liberal’s political career.