Lungu in trouble as Zambia’s economic woes deepen
By John Eche
The political fortunes of Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu are clearly troubled even as the country’s economic woes deepen.
Lungu who won with a slim majority in a contentious second ballot poll in 2016 that many observers believe was manipulated, is standing for re-election in August and feelers from the country now are that he really has a tough time on his hands, trying to get the electorate to back him.
Part of the challenge is economic. Copper, which supplies some 70 percent of the nation’s revenue is underperforming like many other commodities and this has led the country to announce that it would be unable to honour any debt repayment obligations until April 2021. Accordingly, the rating agency, Fitch, has equally announced a revised downgrade of Zambia’s sovereign rating from CC to C.
Equally troubling is the vast exposure of the country to China and the threat of the Asian nation taking steps that imperil Zambia’s sovereignty on account of this expressed intention to default on its loans repayment.
And even as the country is severely buffeted by negative economic headwinds, Lungu is also facing immense storms on the political flank ahead of his re-election.
Given the testy challenge he faces from the opposition, sources say he is currently pushing for a string of constitutional and voter roll reforms to make it easier for him to be re-elected.
One of the reforms, The Difference learnt would ensure that rather than be compelled to participate in a re-run should he not secure over 50 per cent of the popular vote, he should be permitted to set up a coalition government that he would then head.
The second reform is geared towards adjusting the existing voters roll in such a way that it would be more favourably disposed to ensuring his re-election.