Zambia has been hailed as one of Africa’s most stable and mature democracies. It has held regular multi-party elections since 1991, including in 2011 when President Rupiah Banda lost, accepted defeat and stepped down. But this poll is being contested under new rules. The constitution was amended in response to the deaths of two sitting presidents in less than five years, which meant early elections on both occasions. Under the new rules, a presidential candidate is required to have a running mate who will become vice-president and take over if the president dies in office. For the first time, the winner must also secure a minimum of one vote more than 50% of the ballots cast. Otherwise the poll will go into a second round, to be held within 37 days. This means the president should have gained the support of a wider cross-section of society.
In addition to the election, the people will also be voting in a constitutional referendum on the same day, to decide whether to amend the bill of rights.
This gives all Zambians the right to food, shelter, employment and healthcare. It also bans homosexual acts, abortion and raises the age of consent to 19.
Some civil society groups have criticised the decision to hold a referendum question in parallel to the general election. They say amending the bill of rights in the constitution is a matter of such gravity that it should be addressed on its own merits, without subconscious influence from the positions taken by political leaders.
Full Article: What is at stake in Zambia’s elections? – BBC News.