The Zambia coat of arms[/caption]
The excitement is definitely building as Zambia’s tripartite election date draws nearer. Set for the 20th of September 2011, this year’s race to State House (known locally as Plot #1) is particularly intense — 10 candidates have successfully placed their nominations and all fancy their chances to win the coveted presidential seat.
The last time there was such a high number of presidential candidates was in 2001 which saw eleven candidates fight it out. This time round the number of presidential candidates had been expected to be a record breaking 17 parliamentary candidates but at close of filing of nominations on Friday the 12th of August, only 10 candidates had successfully registered. Rather worryingly, reasons sited were failure to raise the 200 pre-conditional number of supporters and failure to come up with the K10 million presidential nomination fee required.
Chief Justice Ernest Sakala officially announced the names of party leaders that filed in valid successfully nominations and will be able to contest the presidential seat as follows:
1. Tilyenji Kaunda — United National Independence Party (UNIP), Twitter ID: @unipzambia, UNIP on Facebook2. Edith Zewelani Nawakwi — Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), Twitter ID: @FDDZambia, FFD on Facebook3. Dr Fredrick MutesaZambians for Empowerment and Development (ZED), ZED on Facebook4. Elias Chipimo JuniorNational Restoration Party (NAREP), Twitter ID: @NAREPzambia, NAREP on Facebook5. Hakainde HichilemaUnited Party for National Development (UPND), Twitter ID: @upndzambia, UPND on Facebook6. Ng’andu MagandeNational Movement for Progress (NMP)7. Rupiah Bwezani BandaMovement for Multi Party Development (MMD)8. Charles MilupiAlliance for Democracy and Development (ADD)9. Michael SataPatriotic Front (PF), Twitter ID: @michaelsata, MMD on Facebook10. Godfrey MiyandaHeritage Party (HP), HP on Facebook
It’s very interesting to see how these political parties are using social media as part of their campaign. We’ve listed their website, Twitter and Facebook presence if we could find them. So follow them, like them and join the debate.
The high number of candidates has raised concern among some Zambian voters who fear votes will be split among these parties and disadvantage opposition parties. Other concerns that have surrounded this year’s upcoming elections has been the issue of the election ballot papers which are being printed in South Africa by the Universal Printing Group (UPG). Questions of the company’s credibility have been raised frequently by opposition party members but the company has released a schedule of works completed so far to put these queries to rest. To add to their credibility, UPG special projects consultant Vik Vaid revealed that UPG has won 44 contracts to print ballot papers and supporting services with many African governments including Nigeria, South Africa and Malawi in the last 10 years.
Amidst these issues, the US Department of State has issued a travel warning to U.S citizens travelling to Zambia up to October 15, 2011. This is due to the fear of potential unrest surrounding the September 20, 2011 elections in Zambia. This red alert has been received with disapproval from many Zambian citizens who feel it is an unfair assumption since Zambia has held peaceful elections since their independence in 1964 and is known to be one of the safest countries in Africa.
With a total of 5,167,154 registered voters expected to participate in the event, this election will certainly be interesting to watch. The 2000 census found that 70% of people in Zambia were aged 20 years or more. The voting age in Zambia is 18. So of the estimated 13 million you would conservatively expect well over nine million to be of voting age. With just over five million registered voters, I calculate that more than 45% of the eligible voting population in Zambia is not registered to vote — that’s at least four million people. We think that it’s a great shame that whatever the outcome it’s not really representing the views of the majority of the people of Zambia. Let’s hope that in future, more Zambians understand and value their right to choose their leader. If you have any views or opinions about this topic, share them with us by commenting on this blog or starting a discussion on our Facebook page.