Business, Finance & Economics

Sata wins in Zambia poll upset


Opposition leader Michael Sata was announced the winner of presidential elections in Zambia early on Friday. Here his supporters of cheer and wave a placard with his picture on it during the election campaign.


Thomas Nsama

Michael Sata, a former railway station cleaner turned opposition politician, has won a close-fought presidential election in Zambia unseating incumbent Rupiah Banda.

Sata, 74, had lost four previous runs at the presidency – most recently in 2008 – but this time around the Electoral Commission of Zambia said he had defeated Banda, also 74, by 190,000 votes.

In 2008 Sata lost to Banda by a narrow margin of just 35,000 votes prompting protests from his supporters.

Chief Justice Ernest Sakala declared Sata the winner early on Friday morning after he had polled 43 percent of the vote with nearly all constituencies counted.

Banda was elected for the first time in 2008 following the death of President Levy Mwanawasa, but his Movement for Multiparty Democracy party has ruled for 20 years.

Leading his Patriotic Front party, Sata’s basic message of cracking down on corruption, creating more jobs and better access to education won over the electorate and was particularly popular among younger voters.

Sata earned the nickname "King Cobra" thanks to his venomous attacks on opponents and on Chinese investors in Zambia’s booming copper mining industry whom he accused in the past of exploiting workers. He has toned down his anti-China rhetoric during this election campaign.

The polls itself were largely peaceful although some rioting was reported in the northern Copperbelt cities where people were angered by a government ban on unofficial announcements of results.

Banda is expected to announce his acceptance of the results on Friday with Sata due to be sworn in as president later in the day.