Zambians celebrate Sata’s win with fists raised

LUSAKA - Zambians painted the capital in shades of green and white on Friday to celebrate the historic presidential election victory of “King Cobra”, opposition leader Michael Sata.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Fri 23 Sep 2011, 6:47 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:56 AM

In a continent where leaders are often reluctant to cede power, incumbent Rupiah Banda tearfully conceded defeat, saying the people had spoken and calling for unity.

His Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) party had run Zambia since one-party rule ended in 1991.

Hundreds of Sata supporters honked their car horns in central Lusaka, blowing vuvuzelas and waving their fists in the air — the symbol of Sata’s Patriotic Front party — and singing songs of praise for the 74-year-old president-elect.

“I feel very good — finally change has come after 20 years,” said Francis Musonda, a taxi driver who proudly displayed a green tag with Sata’s face on his breast pocket.

“They tried to steal the election but this time it failed.”

Thousands sang and danced at the Supreme Court grounds, where the inauguration of Sata is due to take place later.

Mildred Chileka, a trader at a local market, said Zambians expected Sata’s new government to improve the economy and ease rampant youth unemployment.

“We expect many things to change because the new President is a hard worker. We are happy to have removed the MMD, we had suffered under this government,” the 34-year-old mother said, displaying Sata’s portrait on her wrapover.

A boisterous group of about 20 youths walked to the Supreme Court grounds with a mock coffin draped in the MMD’s blue colours and inscribed “Rest in Peace Banda”.

Sata secured support among young people on the back of campaign promises to create more jobs and his criticism of Banda’s government for failing to allow ordinary Zambians to share in proceeds from the country’s copper mines.

Youths had fought running battles with riot police on Thursday in the towns of Ndola and Kitwe, 250 km (150 miles) north of Lusaka, setting fire to vehicles and markets in the normally peaceful mining heartland.

Sata had strong backing in urban areas and the economic centre of the Copper Belt while Banda, a farmer and former diplomat, relied on votes from rural areas.

Critics say Sata ran a populist campaign and would now have to act quickly to convince his supporters that he is capable of improving the lives of millions who are mired in poverty.

“There is a lot of expectation and if he does not deliver many people will be disappointed,” taxi driver Musonda said.

“But he is a man of action, I have confidence in him.”

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