“This spirit of change was bottled up for a long time,” she said.
When celebrations die down, Hichilema, 59, a former CEO at an accounting firm before entering politics, faces the task of reviving an economy in turmoil. Zambia became Africa’s first pandemic-era sovereign default in November after failing to keep up with its international debt payments. read more
The default was driven by depressed commodity prices – which had pushed Zambia into recession well before the pandemic – worsened by the pandemic itself.
Zambia’s sovereign dollar bonds jumped nearly 2 cents on Monday after the news of Hichilema’s win. read more Zambia’s kwacha currency strengthened nearly 1% against the dollar.
The economy has been buoyed slightly by more favourable copper prices this year – now hovering around decade highs, driven partly by the boom in electric cars. Last year, Zambia, Africa’s second biggest copper miner, produced a record output of the metal.
International Monetary Fund support is on hold until after the vote, as is debt restructuring – seen as an early test for a new global plan aimed at easing poor countries’ burdens. read more
The election is the culmination of an acrimonious rivalry between the two that in 2017 led Lungu to arrest and imprison Hichilema for refusing to make way for his motorcade. This is Hichilema’s sixth attempt at the presidency since 2006.