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Zambia: Lungu inaugurates projects ahead of election

By The Africa Report
Posted on Wednesday, 4 August 2021 13:09

Zambian President Edgar Lungu (R) meets with Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, in Lusaka, Zambia, on Feb. 22, 2021. (Photo by Zhou Lin/Xinhua)

Zambia will hold its general election on 12 August, and the ruling party, the Patriotic Front, has been giving out handouts to civil servants and farmers.

The opposition is focussing on the declining economy, and the fight will be a close one. The opposition candidate, Hakainde Hichilema who leads the United Party for National Development (UPND), lost by 100,000 votes in the 2016 elections.

Lungu’s proposed grand projects

  • Kafue Gorge Lower hydropower project: The first 150 MW turbine of the Chinese-funded $2bn project was inaugurated on 23 July;
  • Kenneth Kaunda International Airport: a new terminal was to be opened on 8 August, also built by Chinese company Jiangxi and funded ($360m) by China Eximbank. However, the opening has been delayed.

The state of the economy

The government has highlighted that the kwacha is strengthening against the dollar, going from $1=22.64 kwacha on 1 July to $1=21.39 kwacha on 23 July.

The Bank of Zambia (BoZ) “points to rising copper prices (moving towards $10,000 a tonne), foreign appetite for government bonds and lower pressure on forex since the government entered sovereign default and stopped paying external creditors,” reports Africa Confidential. However, the opposition claims the BoZ is selling extra dollars to boost the local currency.

Bottom line

The opposition is concentrating on the economic problems the current government is presiding over, and hopes the promise of grand projects will not work for Lungu.

The full version of this article can be found on Africa Confidential. 

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