Vote counting has now begun in Zambia with a partial internet restriction following the successful staging of the southern African nation’s presidential, parliamentary and council general elections.
After 12 hours of voting which started yesterday 12th/08/2021, polling stations started closing at 6 pm (1600 GMT.
President Edgar Lungu deployed more troops in parts of the country to quell election violence in the tightly contested polls pitting him against long-time rival Hakainde Hichilema.
According to Lungu, election-day violence had killed two people — including the chairman of his party in North-Western province.
In a statement, he said he had directed the army commander “to quickly re-enforce security in North-Western, some parts of Western and Southern provinces where this unprecedented violence is taking place”.
“I will not take kindly to these evil schemes,” he vowed. “How can you talk about free and fair elections when our opponents have taken this election as war?” he said.
The troop deployment was just a “distraction”, opposition United Party for National Development spokesman Anthony Bwalya told AFP.
Sixteen candidates were vying for the top job, but the frontrunners are Lungu, 64, and business tycoon Hichilema, who are facing off at the polls for the third time and who between the two of them garnered almost 98 percent of the votes in the 2016 election.
It should be noted that this is Hichilema’s sixth attempt at eyeing the presidential seat.
“We are confident that we will carry the day,” he said after voting at a secondary school in a leafy suburb of Lusaka. “People want change — you can see it in their faces,” he told reporters.
Zambia’s next leader “must be determined by the… voters, not the people who count the votes”. Hichilema said
“Social media and messaging platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Messenger are now restricted,” said global observatory NetBlocks as it was partially shut down in the capital Lusaka.
Student Edward Musayani, 26, who had been queueing for four hours to vote in Chawama Township, said he checked his phone in the early afternoon and found that WhatsApp and Facebook had been switched off.
“That’s quite unfortunate in a democratic dispensation like ours. People should have access to information to make informed decisions,” he said.
The government had threatened to cut off internet access if people peddled “falsehoods that could destabilize” the election.
After voting earlier Lungu exuded confidence that he would retain the job he has held for the past six years in the copper-rich southern African country.
“We are winning,… I wouldn’t have been in the race if we were not winning,” Lungu said after
The official announcing of the results is expected by Sunday and the winning candidate must acquire more than 50 percent of votes to avoid a second-round runoff.