Democracy wins in Zambia

Last week we, and most others, predicted that Zambia’s general elections would end in a deadlock or with incumbent Edgar Lungu back in power. That’s the script for so many of Africa’s struggling democracies, right? Well. Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema landed 2.8 million votes, netting him one of the biggest ever electoral wins in Zambia’s history and leaving Lungu, with 1.8 million votes, in the dust.

Initially it seemed Lungu might not accept the result, but he handed over the reins quietly and said he would “work for a peaceful transfer of power” – a welcome but surprising turn up for the books, since Hichilema was arrested several times and jailed for treason under Lungu’s government. The new president says he will not seek revenge or retribution. These sorts of victories are becoming the norm on the continent: The Economist reports that there have been 32 peaceful changes of power in Africa since 2015. Here’s to many more! 🌍

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 19 August 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.