Business, Finance & Economics

Zambia goes to polls in tight election (VIDEO)


Supporters of Zambia's opposition Patriotic Front leader Michael Sata demonstrate on August 9, 2011 outside the high court of Lusaka where Sata filed his nomination ahead presidential elections.


Thomas Nsama

Zambians are lining up to vote in key elections.

Do Zambians vote for incumbent President Rupiah Banda who has steered the country of 13 million to economic growth on the basis of high international copper prices?

Or do young Zambians, many of whom are unemployed,  vote for opposition challenger Michael Sata, known as King Cobra, and his promise of change and a better distribution of income. Some 60 percent of Zambians live on less than $2 per day and Sata is pledging to help those young and poor. 

It's going to be a tight race. Banda and Sata were pitted against each other in the last elections in 2008. That was a very close election which Banda won by just 35,000 votes. After that controversial result riots broke out in Zambia's cities, where support for Sata and his Patriotic Front party are strong.

In the 2008 election, Sata campaigned largely on the issue of Chinese miner owners and he called for them to be thrown out of Zambia. Chinese mine owners are widely unpopular as employers because of charges of relatively low pay and bad work conditions.

For this election the number of registered voters has swelled by 1 million, to 5.2 million. Many of the new voters are young and expected to vote for Sata.

There is a big turnout on election day, with lines a mile long snaking through Lusaka, the capital, and other Zambian cities in the northern Copperbelt area.

Tensions are also high and police are out patrolling the streets and have banned the sale of axes and machetes. 

After decades of one party rule under founding president Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia has become one of Africa's leading multiparty democracies, with parties being voted in and out of government.

This election is going to be an interesting one to watch.