Young voters hold the cards in Zambia election


Zambia is expected to hold tightly contested presidential and parliamentary elections today, with many voters – especially the youth – worried about the economic turmoil that has hit the copper-rich nation.

The governing Patriotic Front (PF) swept to power in 2011 on the promise of “less taxes, more money in people’s pockets and more jobs”. It says it has remained true to its pro-poor policies.

“A lot of work has gone into stopping the bleeding of the economy and we are now on the path to recovery,” PF campaign spokesperson Amos Chanda said.


But the main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) says that President Edgar Lungu—who is running for office again— has not met the expectations of Zambians.

The view is supported by University of Zambia political science lecturer Charity Musamba.

“We have had massive abuse of resources, which contributed to the country’s economic problems,” she told the BBC.


The PF says that during its 10 years in office it has improved the lives of people through its huge drive to expand infrastructure.

It highlights new power stations, schools, hospitals and international airports in Lusaka, the capital, and Ndola, the gateway to the copper-mining region that lies at the heart of Zambia’s economy.

But its critics point out that the economy is in dire straits.

For the first time since 1998, Zambia plunged into a recession last year as the Coronavirus spread across the globe.

Furthermore, the International Labour Organisation estimates that unemployment rose to 12.17 percent in 2020—the highest since the PF took office in 2011.

For the youth, things are even worse, with an estimated one in five without a job. The cost of living has also increased rapidly.

As for the money the country owes to foreign lenders, it is estimated to be more than $12 billion (£8.6bn).

This means that the government ends up spending at least 30 percent of its revenue on interest payments, according to credit ratings firm S&P Global.

Last year, Zambia missed an interest repayment, making it the first African country to default on a loan during the pandemic. It is also facing difficulties repaying other loans.—BBC

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