Lusaka – Electoral campaigns took off in the Southern African country of Zambia on Wednesday in the run-up to polls to elect a President and National Assembly on August 12.
A total of 19 candidates, including incumbent Dr Edgar Lungu, are planning to contest presidential polls. They have paid a participation fee of US$4,245 each to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).
Dr Lungu is expected to file his nomination in the capital Lusaka next week. He assumed office after winning a by-election in 2015 after the death of President Michael Sata in 2014.
Some critics say he has held office twice and as per constitutional provisions, he is not illegible to contest election a third time. But his supporters say the Zambian constitution stipulates that a full term of office must run for three to five years and Lungu had only served a year-and-a-half before the 2016 general election.
The Constitutional Court has ruled that Dr Lungu can run again and his party, the Patriotic Front,) has allotted him an adoption certificate to declare him the preferred candidate to contest on the party ticket.
Offering Dr Lungu competition is Mr Hakainde Hichilema, leader of the country’s biggest opposition political party the United Party for National Development. He has unsuccessfully contested presidential elections five times.
Mr Hichilema has aligned with former Finance Minister Felix Mutati, who is now a leader for the Movement for Democratic Change and a former associate of the president.
The ruling party says it is unfazed by the opposition alliance. The party Secretary-General Davies Mwila said Dr Lungu had done enough for Zambians to get re-elected.
The electoral commission met political stakeholders in Lusaka on Monday and its Chairman Mr Esau Chulu called for peaceful and non-violent campaigns.
Mr Chulu also reminded politicians to minimise gatherings during campaign meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Dr Lungu is expected to dissolve parliament soon, a move which will also cause his ministers to vacate office and provide a level playing field in the campaign. He will himself, however, remain in office as per constitutional requirements until the new president is elected. – Anadolu Agency