Zambia

Zambia’s new President Edgar Lungu, elected less than two months ago, collapsed last weekend and was flown out of the country for specialized treatment. In a country that has lost three presidents in ten years, why did the voters ignore reports about Lungu’s poor health?

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The context and timing of the Lady Justice’s appointment to the highest judicial position in the land raises important questions about perceptions in a country where corruption is widespread. President Edgar Lungu named Justice Mambilima to the post just two weeks after she declared him winner of the tightly contested presidential poll whose results are still controversial.

The two leading candidates in Zambia’s presidential by-election last week were in fact unfit to vie, given their record of activities that constitute elections offenses in the Zambian law. A complaints authority should be set up to investigate the claims.

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The campaigns lacked any clarity about how the candidates would tackle the huge socio-economic problems bedeviling the Southern African nation. But now that there is a new president in office for the next 18 months, he must strive to heal the deep ethnic cleavages and craft and implement a programme that will improve the quality of life of the majority of Zambians.

Is 2015 the year of change in Zambia? With the 20 January presidential by-election fast approaching will there be a shift from a growing democracy to a mature democracy? Can the nationa finally shed the coat of corruption and become a truly democratic society that can trust and rely on its elected officials?

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