The Electoral Commission of Zambia has this morning at exactly 2:37AM declare the candidate of UPND Party, Hakainde Hichilema as the winner of the August 12 2021 presidential election in Zambia.

According to the ECZ Returning Officer, Esau Chulu Hichilema has amassed 2, 810, 757 votes, seconded by Edgar Chagwa Lungu who amassed 1, 814, 201 votes.

He is the seventh elected president of Zambia since independence in 1964.

He became president-elect with close to 60% of the vote, more than the 50% of the vote as per constitutional requirement, with votes tallied from 155 of 156 constituencies nationwide.

Mutale Nalumango, an ex-deputy speaker of parliament, automatically becomes vice-president by virtue of being Hichilema’s running-mate in the poll.

Declaring Hichilema the winner around 2:30 a.m. in the capital Lusaka, Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) chairman Esau Chulu said the delayed results being awaited from Mandevu, a constituency in Lusaka, would be insignificant and unnecessarily delay the decision.

“I therefore proceed to announce the said Hakainde Hichilema to be the president-elect of the Republic of Zambia, on this day 16/08/2021,” Chulu, the returning officer for the presidential poll, said at the national results center the Mulungushi International Conference Center.

The declaration spurred wild celebrations in Lusaka as residents drove around the city honking car horns.

A group went and gathered at Hichilema’s residence in the plush New Kasama area of Lusaka, which was now surrounded by state security.

Garry Nkombo, a UPND chairman for elections, described Hichilema’s victory as one for the people.

Nkombo, himself a parliamentary elected representative from the poll in Mazabuka in the Southern Province, commended the commission for being professional despite delaying the declaration.

Hichilema, who was running a sixth time, said in a Facebook post on his official account “thank you Zambia.”

The president-elect had a day prior visited former President Rupiah Banda and the two held private talks ahead of what was becoming a clear Hichilema victory.

There was no immediate comment from the Lungu camp as an official from his party was earlier ejected from the results center after appearing in a drunken state and attempting to interrupt the results announcement.

Lungu, who had served for more than six years and defeated Hichilema twice before, said Saturday that the poll was not free and fair, alleging violence on his party agents in three of Hichilema’s provincial strongholds in Western, Southern and North-Western provinces.

His daughter, Tasila, was however elected a parliamentary representative for Chawama constituency in Lusaka.

Hichilema and Lungu were the front runners out of a pack of 16 aspirants, several of whom started recognizing Hichilema as the clear victor as early as the second day into vote counting.

Any losing candidate has a two-week window to petition the outcome, under which Hichilema’s inauguration ceremony would be on hold.

Lungu, a lawyer, would also have to cede office as per constitutional requirements to the speaker of parliament, Patrick Matibini, to provide for a free and just legal process.

Hichilema has a lot on his plate to take care of when in office, including an ailing economy due to mounting debt and addressing concerns of deep-rooted government corruption as well as some legal reforms.

An excited citizen, John Zulu, said Hichilema’s victory was an act of change so much desired by the people as was expressed on voting day, when over 7 million registered voters came out to cast their ballots.

Hichilema faced a number of challenges in his bid for the presidency, including multiple arrests and restrictions to conduct campaigns via the Public Order Act.

He was jailed for more than 100 days in 2017 on treason charges after he allegedly refused to give way to Lungu’s motorcade on a road in Western Province during a traditional ceremony.

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