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Elections in Zambia

An MMD (Movement for Multi-Party Democracy) supporter holding a card showing support for the current President Rupiah Bwezani Banda and his party ahead of general elections to be held 20th September 2011. He is also secretly holding a screwdriver as a weapon. There were clashes between Government party supporters (MMD) and the main Opposition party supporters (PF - Patriotic Front) the previous day 26th August 2011 during a PF rally near the main City market and nearby New Soweto market in Lusaka, Zambia amid some signs of growing unrest between the main parties in the run up to the ballot.

First time in Zambia and spent the day wandering around the capital Lusaka with camera doing some stock photog. Got to say it’s been a long time since I just walked around aimlessly with only a vague plan taking pics and def felt good..

I was going to pass straight through the capital on my northward journey to Kenya – but the tall Soviet style buildings from another era intrigued me and anyway – all the driving was beginning to take it’s toll on me.

I’m also trying to get my head round a theme that has been set for a Masterclass I’m starting in Holland next month – the theme being ‘the City’.  I thought maybe walking around an African city I would have my very own eureka moment (prob just as the camera was being pinched from under my nose…!).

I started at the large City market – drifted into Soweto Market (a more intense version of the city market) and ended up at the Showground where the international Rugby 7’s tournament was taking place with teams from as far afield as Kenya and South Africa.

It’s also election time here in Zambia next month (20th Sept).  I was assured by an immigration official I was obliged (read coerced) into giving a lift for a bit of the way to Lusaka at the border that the election would pass without event and would be free and fair – but having looked at the headline story about an outbreak of violence in the capital on Friday in the main newspaper yesterday (the Govt-controlled Times of Zambia) it was not – how shall I put this mildly – a balanced account of events and may not bode well for the forthcoming elections.

Just as a bit of background – the main opposition party – the PF (Patriotic Front) which has a real chance of winning (if free and fair elections are held) held a rally in the capital yesterday and during the rally – Govt sponsored MMD (Movement for Multi-Party Democracy) supporters allegedly tried to attack PF members at the rally to which they retaliated (this is an unverified account by a local journalist I spoke with).

This is how the Times of Zambia described the events though:-

The PF cadres who were armed with catapults, machetes, hammers and knives… harassed innocent people and even attempted to remove President Rupiah Banda’s billboards… A Times crew which rushed to the scene found machete-wielding PF cadres boasting that they had the blessing from the party president Michael Sata… and the police would not do anything to them.’

P.1  – 27/08/11

Provocative perhaps?!

I am new to Zambian politics but whatever the truth behind what happened it can’t help that the main national newspaper is describing events in such an emotive fashion – as if the hoards of Babylon had descended on Lusaka itself.
So violence remains a real possibility here in the run-up to the election.  But according to the local journalist I spoke to there might be 2 or 3 days of violence in and around the general election but no more than that as Zambians are generally a peaceful lot.

And on that point I can personally vouch for myself – Zambians are some of the friendliest people if first impressions are anything to go by.   I hope for their sake things run smoothly next month…

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Bruce Kravetz #

    Really enjoying ready your accounts of the trip that I should be sharing. I miss have a good adventure. Don’t worry I understand who things go when making such a trip but still………. This up and coming trip is enough to keep me on edge a bit. Keep those posted. Bruce

  2. Rob #

    I feel for you mate. Had a similar one when i crossed the Zim border last month. Got stung for having a Hi-Lux (should have taken a Landie) as it was a commercial vehicle as well.

    At least when i got the speeding ticket about an hour later I was able to tell them that the government already had all of my US dollars (apart from 7) and that if they couldn’t take Pula or Nam then they would have to go away. 😉

    Best one recently was Dobe from the Botswana side in to Nam – if you can find it you will love it.

    Travel safe.

    • Hi Rob!
      Good to hear that it wasn’t just me! was it the Beit Bridge crossing at sa you were using? I’ve heard since that it is amongst the worse border crossings in Southern Africa (and that’s saying something!). Just my luck it was the first one I’d done in a while..
      Funnily enough I got stung in Zam a day later with a speeding offence too! I didn’t believe that a first offence was US110 and a second was US500 (or 5 years imprisonment…!) til he showed me the official speeding ticket documentation…just ridiculous – ended up deciding it would be wiser to pay a US40 bribe and be done with it!
      Good to hear you’re still on the move… based in CT now. Give us a shout if you’re ever down that way…


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