Southern African News Features                                           SANF 11 No 25, September 2011
Zambians go to the polls

Zambians go to the polls for general elections this week to elect their president, members of Parliament and local government representatives for the next five years.

Ten presidential candidates will contest the election on 20 September, including the incumbent Rupiah Banda, who is running for a second term.

Presidential candidates include Michael Sata, leader of the main opposition party, the Patriotic Front (PF), Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND), and Godfrey Miyanda of the Heritage party.
There is one woman presidential candidate, Edith Nawakwi of the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD).

Banda is representing the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), which has been in power for 20 years, since 1991.In the last presidential election held in 2008 following the death of Levy Mwanawasa, he won more than 40 percent of the valid votes cast.
Sata had about 38 percent of the votes, and Hichilema of the UPND got about 19 percent, with Miyanda trailing with less than one percent.

The voter turnout was about 45 percent of registered voters, according to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ). With regard to parliamentary elections, there are 150 seats to be contested, and MMD and PF have fielded candidates in all of the 150 constituencies.
A total of 768 parliamentary candidates will contest for 150 seats in the National Assembly, with 113 or 14.7 percent of the candidates being women.

Ninety women were nominated by the various political parties while the other 23 are standing as independents. In the previous parliamentary elections in 2006, there were 706 candidates, of whom 103 were women.

The Zambian parliament is made up of 160 seats, including the 150 members who are elected plus eight nominated by the President. The other two members are the President and the Speaker of the National Assembly.
In the 2006 elections, the MMD won 73 of the elected seats, which is 49 percent of the elected seats in parliament.

The PF won 43 seats, with the United Democratic Alliance getting 26 seats, the United Liberal Party had two seats, and the National Democratic Focus had one. The remaining seats went to independent candidates.
Peace, security and the economy have been the major campaign issues for all the political parties. The electoral commission says a total of 5,167,154 people have registered to vote. Zambia has a population of more than 12 million.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Election Observer Mission (SEOM), together with other regional and international observer missions, are observing the electoral process in three phases, namely, the pre-election, election and post-election.

SEOM is expected to produce a report on the conduct of the polls. This is in line with the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, which encourage Member States to promote common political values and systems.
The conduct of the observer missions will be guided by the constitution and electoral laws of Zambia.
 

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