At least three people have been killed during the campaign, with regular clashes erupting between supporters of Lungu’s Patriotic Front (PF) and Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND). Ahead of the vote, the election commission issued an emergency statement describing the unrest as “unprecedented” and warning it had “marred Zambia’s historic record of peaceful elections”. Last month, campaigning was halted in Lusaka for 10 days to reduce the violence. But skirmishes continued until polling day, including fighting in the streets and vehicles overturned close to Hichilema’s final rally on Wednesday in Lusaka.
UPND supporter Patricia Situmbeko, 50, blamed the violence on Lungu, who she said had failed to rein in his supporters. “Zambia was peaceful but the president got his cadres excited and they attack the UPND people,” the mother-of-five told AFP at a voting station in the low-income Mtendere district of Lusaka.
“We voted UPND for real change… The youth are unemployed, there is too much violence and the cost of living is rising so fast. Sugar is nearly up by three times in price over recent years.”
But accountant Tembo Mabvuto, 34, said the president needed more time to make a tangible difference. “There have been a lot of promises and people are expecting a lot from this election, but I think that people might want to stay with the same president for now… I don’t sense the people all demanding a new president yet,” he said.