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Spotlight on Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu

By Christopher Mwambazi in Lusaka
Posted on Monday, 9 March 2015 16:13

Faced with a party divided by the 28 October 2014 death of president Michael Sata, and the lowest copper prices in more than five years, president edgar Lungu is promising to fight graft, improve the livelihoods of the poor and reassure investors.

In the 20 January vote, Lungu defeated frequent presidential contender Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND (United Party for National Development) by 27,000 votes, the narrowest win in the country’s electoral history.

The rise of Sata’s Successor

1956 November 11- Born in Ndola

1981 – Bachelor’s in law from the University of Zambia

2001 – Joined the newly formed PF opposition party

2013 December – Appointed by as defence minister

2015 January 25 – Became the 6th President of Zambia

The new government has announced it will freeze electricity tariffs for two years for domestic consumers while increasing charges for industrial consumers, a key indicator that the populist policies of the Patriotic Front (PF) did not die with Sata, its founder.

In January, supporters in key provinces like copperbelt and Lusaka remained disenchanted by the failure of the PF to deliver on key 2011 election promises like improving their standard of living and making sure the mining sector contributes adequately to the economy.

Zambian workers, a key support base for the PF, said they were let down after the PF government banned salary increments for public-sector workers in 2014 and 2015 to help contain the fiscal deficit, which rose 5.5% last year, its highest level in almost 10 years.

Whereas Sata’s government imposed a new tax regime on the copper industry last year, Lungu is showing himself to be conciliatory.

He re-appointed Christopher Yaluma as mines minister to find a compromise with companies on delayed value-added-tax refunds and complaints about higher royalties.

However, the influence of finance minister Alexander Chikwanda, who also served under Sata, may mean some heavy-handedness remains when dealing with the mining sector.

Born on 11 November 1956 at Ndola Central Hospital, Lungu grew up in Chimwemwe, in the sprawling township of Kitwe in Copperbelt Province.

Lungu was admitted to the Zambian bar in 1983 after stints as a lawyer at the justice ministry, defunct mining conglomerate Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines and Barclays Bank Zambia, among others.

He made his entry into politics by joining the UPND in 1999 before ditching the party for the newly formed PF in 2001.

In 2001, Lungu stood for, and lost, the Chawama constituency under the PF banner.

In 2011, Lungu ran for the same parliamentary seat and won the election.

In September 2011, Sata appointed Lungu deputy minister in the office of the vice-president under Guy Scott.

In July of the following year, Lungu was promoted to head the home affairs ministry before becoming defence minister in December 2013.

After the shocking dismissal of succession frontrunner Wynter Kabimba in August 2014, Sata named Lungu as PF secretary general as well as defence and justice minister.

This gave him prime positioning to represent the party at the 20 January vote. ●

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