Southern African News Features                                           SANF 11 No 26, September 2011
Sata wins Zambia’s presidential election

Former Zambian opposition leader Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front has been declared the winner of Zambia’s presidential election held on 20 September, defeating the incumbent, Rupiah Banda by some 188,249 votes. Sata was sworn in as Zambia’s fifth president on Friday.

Sata was declared winner by Chief Justice Ernest Sakala after winning 1,1150,045 votes (or 43 percent) of the vote with just seven of the 150 constituencies left to be counted as there were not enough voters left to give Banda a lead.

Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) chairperson, Irene Mambilima announced that Banda of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) polled 916,796 votes while the United Party for National Development (UPND) leader, Hakainde Hichilema got 489,944 votes from the results collected from 143 constituencies.

Born in Mpika in the then Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in 1937, the President-elect has participated in presidential elections four times and lost twice to the late Zambian president, Levy Mwanawasa and once to Banda in a presidential by-election in 2008.

Sata, who is popularly known as “King Cobra”, broke away from the MMD in 2001 to form the PF, which has contested general elections since then as the main opposition political party in Zambia.

Prior to forming his party, Sata served as a minister in the government of late President Frederick Chiluba, who was the founding leader of the MMD.

His persistence to rule Zambia and championing the cause of the poor people made him emerge as a leading opposition presidential hopeful. Despite the successive electoral losses he suffered, this did not make him falter to aspire for power.

His party has continued to gain momentum and popularity among supporters who have seen him sail through to become Zambia’s fifth President since the country’s political independence from Britain in 1964.

Brought up in Mpika in the Northern Province, Sata worked as a police officer, railway man and trade unionist during the colonial era.

His political career dates back to the Northern Rhodesian era in 1963 with the United National Independence Party (UNIP).

Following independence, he worked his way up through the rank-and-file of the then ruling UNIP led by Zambia’s first president Kenneth Kaunda to become governor of Lusaka in 1985.

As governor, he made his mark as a man of action with a hands-on approach. He cleaned up the streets, patched roadways and built bridges in the city.

He then became a Member of Parliament for Kabwata constituency in Lusaka but soon left UNIP to join the newly formed MMD during the campaign for multi-party politics in 1991.

After Chiluba defeated Kaunda in 1991, Sata served in various portfolios in the MMD government, including as minister for local government, labour and later health where he is credited with transforming the country’s health system.

In 1995, he was appointed Minister without Portfolio and helped organise to become a formidable force in Zambian politics which skill he quickly marshalled to put together the PF
 

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