2016 Zambian general election

  (Redirected from Zambian general election, 2016)

General elections were held in Zambia on 11 August 2016 to elect the President and National Assembly.[2][3] A constitutional referendum was held alongside the elections, with proposals to amend the bill of rights and Article 79.[4]

2016 Zambian general election

← 2015 11 August 2016 2021 →
  Edgar Lungu January 2015.jpg Hakainde Hichilema 2014.jpg
Nominee Edgar Lungu Hakainde Hichilema
Running mate Inonge Wina Geoffrey Mwamba
Popular vote 1,860,877 1,760,347
Percentage 50.35% 47.63%

2016 Zambia Presidential Election Results by Constituency.svg

President before election

Edgar Lungu

Elected President

Edgar Lungu

President Edgar Lungu, previously elected in January 2015 to finish the term of Michael Sata, who died in office, was re-elected for a full five-year term with a majority of the vote in the first round, defeating opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema. Lungu's Patriotic Front also won a majority in the National Assembly for the first time, winning 80 of the 156 elected seats.[5] Lungu was inaugurated on 13 September 2016 at the National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka despite opposition.


The previous general elections in 2011 resulted in a victory for the Patriotic Front (PF), whose candidate Michael Sata was elected President, with the PF winning 61 of the 150 seats in the National Assembly.[6] Following Sata's death in October 2014, early presidential elections were held to elect a successor to complete the remainder of his five-year term, and PF candidate Edgar Lungu was elected. Edgar Lungu beat Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development by just 27,757 votes and the opposition has yet to accept the credibility of the election.[7]

Electoral systemEdit

Although previously the President had been elected in a single round of voting by the first-past-the-post system, in 2015 the National Assembly approved the change in the constitution to change to a two-round system.[8] The constitutional change also introduced the concept of running mates; previously the vice president was appointed after the elections. The running mate, now being an elected member, can assume office directly if the president is deemed unfit to rule.[9]

Of the 159 members of the National Assembly, 150 are elected by the first-past-the-post system in single-member constituencies, with a further eight appointed by the President and a Speaker elected from outside the National Assembly.[10]

The voting age is 18, whilst National Assembly candidates must be at least 21.[11]


A total of nine candidates along with their running mates registered to run for the presidency. Out of the 46 political parties, only five managed to pay their candidate's deposit by the deadline of 17 May 2016. The deadline was subsequently extended by a day, with four other parties nominating a candidate.[12]

The race was expected to be a close race mainly between Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front and Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development. Both leaders competed in the 2015 presidential elections and Lungu won by a very narrow margin.[9]

Presidential candidate Running mate Party
1 Tilyenji Kaunda Njekwa Ement Anamela United National Independence Party
2 Nawakwi Zewelani Edith Clement Mwanza Forum for Democracy and Development
3 Edgar Lungu Inonge Wina Patriotic Front
4 Saviour Chishimba Sinanzeni Chuma United Progressive People
5 Wynter Kabimba Cosmas Musumali Rainbow Party
6 Peter Sinkamba Tafeni Clement Green Party
7 Hakainde Hichilema Geoffrey Mwamba United Party for National Development
8 Andyford Banda Enock Tonga People's Alliance for Change
9 Maxwell Mwamba Rosemary Kabungo Democratic Assembly


Both sides traded accusations of inciting violence for political gain; the ruling Patriotic Front accused the United Party for National Development (UPND), of inciting unnecessary violence, and carrying out its “Operation Watermelon” to create tension in the country. In response, the UPND accused the Patriotic Front of politicising state entities against them.[13]

Violent outbreaks occurred in Lusaka after the government made the decision to suspend the operations of The Post newspaper (one of the several independent newspapers in the country) on 10 June.[14] As a result of the violence, the Election Commission suspended campaigning in Lusaka and Namwala for ten days, and the ban on the newspaper was lifted on 18 July.[15] However, on 23 June the government started taking action against The Post for unpaid taxes of around $6 million; the newspaper denied the claim saying the issue was still being discussed in court. The opposition accused the government of silencing the media.[16][17]

Arrests of opposition membersEdit

On 20 July Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, the vice president of the UPND, was arrested along with several party officials with the accusation that they were trying to start a private militia.[18] The police raided his house and found petrol bombs, machetes and spears. The opposition denied the claims, saying that the weapons were planted there after the arrest. The police raided the house following alleged political poster vandals hiding in the house.[19] A total of 28 people were arrested in the raid.[20]

Ballot papersEdit

There was a lot of controversy in the printing of the ballot papers; previously all ballot papers had been printed in South Africa, but the Electoral commission of Zambia awarded the contract for the 2016 elections to a firm in Dubai. The contract was significantly more expensive and many opposition parties criticised the move. Parties opposed the move as printing the ballot papers outside Africa was expensive to verify and increased the chance of electoral fraud.[21] To counter the suspicion of rigging, the Electoral Commission allowed party officials to travel to Dubai to witness the printing of the ballots; all ballot papers were to be only released if all party officials approved of the process.[22] The printing was completed on 20 July 2016 and the ballots were transported to Zambia on 28 July 2016.[23] However, concerns with respect to the transport and distribution of the ballot papers then arose. The Zambian Air Force were responsible for distributing the ballots across the country.[24]


Results announced by the Electoral Commission on 15 August showed Edgar Lungu winning the presidential election with slightly more than 50% of the vote, ahead of his only major competitor, Hakainde Hichilema, who received almost 48%. Lungu finished a few thousand votes over the threshold for an outright victory.[25]


CandidateRunning matePartyVotes%
Edgar LunguInonge WinaPatriotic Front1,860,87750.35
Hakainde HichilemaGeoffrey Bwalya MwambaUnited Party for National Development1,760,34747.63
Edith NawakwiClement MwanzaForum for Democracy and Development24,1490.65
Andyford BandaEnock TongaPeople's Alliance for Change15,7910.43
Wynter KabimbaCosmas MusumaliRainbow Party9,5040.26
Saviour ChishimbaSinanzeni ChumaUnited Progressive People9,2210.25
Tilyenji KaundaNjekwa AnamelaUnited National Independence Party8,9280.24
Peter SinkambaClement TafeniGreen Party of Zambia4,5150.12
Maxwell MwambaRosemary KabungoDemocratic Assembly2,3780.06
Valid votes3,695,71097.73
Invalid/blank votes85,7952.27
Total votes3,781,505100.00
Registered voters/turnout6,698,37256.45
Source: Electoral Commission of Zambia

National AssemblyEdit

Patriotic Front1,537,94642.0180+20
United Party for National Development1,525,04941.6658+30
Movement for Multi-Party Democracy99,3562.713–52
Forum for Democracy and Development79,4892.1710
Rainbow Party34,9060.950New
National Restoration Party10,8870.3000
Alliance for Democracy and Development8,2690.230–1
United Democratic Front7,6430.210New
United National Independence Party7,2530.2000
Golden Progressive Party1,4610.040New
Radical Revolutionary Party8310.020New
Green Party of Zambia4070.010New
United Progressive People3330.010New
Valid votes3,660,83597.55
Invalid/blank votes92,0442.45
Total votes3,752,879100.00
Registered voters/turnout6,698,37256.03
Source: Electoral Commission of Zambia, Daily Mail



  • The main opposition accused the electoral commission of participating in fraud as it significantly delayed the announcement of the results.[26]


  •   European Union: EU observers commended the Zambian people for conducting peaceful elections and deemed the election process free and transparent despite some delays. However, the EU commission accused state media of being unbalanced in its report.[27]
  •   United States: The US-based Carter Center said that the election was conducted in a highly tense atmosphere and that there was a lot of polarization due to inter-party politics. The Center was also concerned by the delay in the announcement of the results by the electoral commission.[28]
  • African Union: Goodluck Jonathan, the head of the AU observer mission in Zambia, also deemed election day to have been peaceful. However, like the EU, he noted that state media had been biased towards the ruling party. He also said that holding the referendum at the same time as the elections caused confusion to many voters and added complexity to the election process.[27]
  • Southern African Development Community: The SADC observer mission along with COMESA, Commonwealth, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region all concluded that the election was conducted in a free and fair environment. Jakaya Kikwete, leader of the Commonwealth observer mission in Zambia, said that pockets of violence in the country and the way the police handled the situation were unfortunate.[29]


PF members took to the street to celebrate Lungu's victory,[30] whilst riots took place in most parts of the country. The UPND rejected the results, saying that the electoral commission had colluded to rig the result in favour of Lungu.[31] The UPND filled a petition to the constitutional court over the recount of votes in Lusaka as major irregularities were reported from the city.[32]

Lungu, who could only be inaugurated seven days after being proclaimed the victor, held a celebratory rally on 16 August for his re-election that secured him another five-year term.[33] He was sworn in on 13 September 2016.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Register statistics Archived 26 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine Electoral Commission of Zambia
  2. ^ Zambia votes in presidential elections BBC News, 20 January 2015
  3. ^ Zambia sets presidential election to August 2016 Al Jazeera, 4 January 2016
  4. ^ Government to hold Referendum along side the 2016 General Elections Lusaka Times, 16 March 2015
  5. ^ PF grabs 80 parliamentary seats Daily Mail, 27 August 2016
  6. ^ Last elections IPU
  7. ^ "Ruling party candidate Edgar Lungu sworn in as new Zambian president". Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  8. ^ Closely fought 2016 election would increase localised violence risks and put pressure on Zambia's austerity plans IHS Jane's 360, 9 December 2015
  9. ^ a b Expectant mood as Zambians gear for general elections The Herald, 4 July 2016
  10. ^ Republic of Zambia IFES
  11. ^ Electoral system IPU
  12. ^ "Only 5 Parties to take party in the Presidential Elections as Frank Bwalya mocks Eric Chanda", Lusaka Times, 18 May 2016.
  13. ^ "Zambia's Lungu Issues Warning on Election-linked Violence". Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  14. ^ "Zambia: Government Suspends Election Campaigns | Freedom House". freedomhouse.org. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  15. ^ "Zambia poll agency lifts campaign ban". Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  16. ^ "Zambia accused of attacking press freedom as newspaper is closed and editor jailed". Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  17. ^ "Opposition leader says Zambia unlikely to have free elections". Reuters. 23 June 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  18. ^ "Zambian opposition leaders jailed as elections near". DW.COM. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  19. ^ "Zambia police tear gas opposition leader Mwamba's home – BBC News". Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  20. ^ "Zambia police arrest 28 in raid on opposition official's home". Reuters. 20 July 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  21. ^ "Printing of Zambia Ballots on Course, Electoral Commission Reports". Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  22. ^ "Zambia Opposition: Having Ballots Printed in Dubai Could Undermine Vote". Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  23. ^ Editor, Chief. "Zambia : Last batch of ballot papers transported to Dubai Airport". Retrieved 4 August 2016.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  24. ^ "Ballots for Zambian Elections to Arrive This Week". Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  25. ^ Chris Mfula and Stella Mapenzauswa, "Zambian president Lungu re-elected in disputed vote", Reuters, 15 August 2016.
  26. ^ AFP. "Zambia opposition leader angered by vote results delay". Times LIVE. Retrieved 14 August 2016.
  27. ^ a b (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "Election observers in Zambia report media 'biased' in vote | News | DW.COM | 13 August 2016". DW.COM. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  28. ^ "Zambia Presidential Rivals Neck-and-Neck as Results Flow In". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  29. ^ "AU, SADC, Carter Center & Other Observers Declare Zambia Polls Free & Fair". Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  30. ^ "Zambia President Re-Elected in Close Vote". Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  31. ^ "Zambia arrests 133 protesters after contested election". Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  32. ^ Bariyo, Nicholas (20 August 2016). "Zambian Opposition Goes to Court to Overturn Results of Presidential Election". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  33. ^ "Lungu uses thanksgiving rally to call for peace". Retrieved 18 August 2016.