Zambia’s young people turned out in droves to vote in the recent general election.
Their votes were counted — advancing opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema to his landslide election victory.
Businessman Hichilema garnered than 2.8 million votes in the election, unseating Edgar Lungu, who received a respectable 1.8 million votes.
Youth representative of Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND) party said that the victory was mainly down to the young people, who came out in record numbers.
“Young people gave us the vote. Four million young people between the ages of 18 to 24 registered to vote. It was a huge turnout and it was very personal to them,” Joseph Kalimbwe told CNN. “They want to ensure the mistakes of their parents were corrected. They have voted for our leader on basis he has better policies and ideas and can strengthen our state institutions.”
“In the 2021 elections, the people voted to save democracy,” Hichilema said in a statement to The New York Times. “We know that a healthy and functioning democracy is one in which the voices of citizens can be heard freely,” he added. “We will listen to those voices rather than seeking to silence critics.”
For Hichilema, the win has been a long time coming. He has challenged Lungu a total of five times.
“Based on the revelations issued at final results, I will comply with the constitutional provisions for a peaceful transition of power,” Lungu said in his concession speech. “I would therefore like to congratulate my brother, the president-elect, His Excellency Mr Hakainde Hichilema, for becoming the seventh Republican President.”
Lungu continued, thanking his fellow Zambians for all of their support.
“I will forever cherish and appreciate that authority you’ve invested in me. Countrymen, women in and the youth, all I ever wanted to do was to serve my country to the best of my abilities. Of course, there were challenges on the way. But what I appreciated most, with your support during the tough times,” he said before thanking his party.
Lungu has led the country since 2015.