CW 33/2021: Change in leadership
Press Review 14 August 2021 to 20 August 2021

Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema wins election in Zambia

Last Monday morning, the Electoral Commission of Zambia announced the victory of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema in the presidential election held on 12 August. Hichilema, who entered the race for the highest office in the country for the sixth time , won by a clear 59.38% against the incumbent President Edgar Lungu with 38.33%. The election victory of the challenger was already apparent at the weekend when half of the constituencies were counted: Hichilema  had already been so far in the lead that there was no longer any doubt about Lungu’s defeat. However, it remained unclear whether the defeated incumbent would accept the election result. In the run-up to the election, Lungu had still ruled out defeat. He was also criticised for instrumentalising the security forces and authorities, who deliberately targeted the opposition, thus making a free and fair election environment impossible, according to experts (DAS Press Review Week 31). On election day itself, he had threatened not to recognise a victory of his opponent. On Monday afternoon, however, Lungu congratulated the newly elected president on his election victory in a televised speech, thus burying concerns that he would not relinquish office. Hichilema’s clear election victory is considered remarkable against the background of the difficult political environment for the opposition. The decisive factor for his victory is said to be the votes of the youth in particular, who demanded a change of power mainly due to the deteriorating economic situation. The high voter turnout, which was 15 percentage points higher than in the last election and totalled 70%, is also said to be due to the high mobilisation on the part of the opposition and proves the enormous importance of this election for the Zambian population. Hichilema faces a number of challenges; Zambia’s debt-to-GDP ratio currently stands at over 100%. During his inaugural speech, the long-time businessman announced economic reforms, among other things.


SADC-Summit in Lilongwe 

The 41st Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was held in the Malawian capital Lilongwe from Tuesday to Wednesday. The meeting ended on Wednesday with the announcement of the 28-point final communiqué. At the summit, Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera replaced Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi as SADC chair in rotation. Thus, the troika, which sets the direction for the organisation, is composed of the former chair Nyusi, the current chair Chakwera and the future chair Félix Tshisekedi. The global distribution of vaccines in the fight against the Corona pandemic played an important role in the discussions at the summit. In view of the fact that only about 2% of the African population have been fully vaccinated, the new SADC Chair Chakwera called for an end to the hoarding of vaccines by Western countries. The developments in Mozambique were also looked at in detail and the quick reaction of the SADC member states was assessed positively. On 9 August, the deployment of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) to the northern province of Cabo Delgado was officially announced. The intervention force is to comprise up to 3,000 soldiers, about half of whom will be provided by South Africa. Mozambique had only officially requested military assistance from SADC in mid-July. The summit has now also agreed on the establishment of a Regional Counter-Terrorism Centre based in Tanzania. Other points in the final document include the decision to transform the SADC Parliamentary Forum into a SADC Parliament with consultative functions, the demand for the lifting of all sanctions against Zimbabwe and the congratulations to Zambia on its democratic change of power. The document criticises the AU Commission’s decision to give Israel observer status at the AU, as well as the design of the post-Cotonou Agreement and the EU’s Neighbourhood, Development Cooperation and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), pointing to its undermining of regional organisations within ACP countries. Meanwhile, there was surprisingly no mention of the current developments in Eswatini, although the crisis in the absolutist kingdom was on the summit agenda and SADC had sent a fact-finding mission to the country following violent unrest in July.


In other news

Last Monday, the streaming platform Netflix released the trailer for the series King of Boys: Return of the King, the first Nigerian Netflix original series. With this, Netflix is continuing its trend of recent years to invest more in African productions. The new series will be released at the end of August and is expected to be as successful as the two South African productions Queen Sono and Blood and Water. King of Boys: Return of the King is a sequel to the 2018 Nollywood film King of Boys. In the movie, Eniola Salami is a businesswoman who is part of a group of marauders. It portrays how dark dealings take place behind the scenes in politics. Especially in the months leading up to Nigeria’s 2019 general elections, director Kemi Adetiba’s film was well received and received outstanding reviews.

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