The Zambia Elections and Closing Democratic Space in Southern Africa
An analysis of the recent Zambian elections and their relevance for observed political trends throughout the Southern African region.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Paul Graham, Project Director, Southern Africa, Freedom House
Chloë McGrath, Visiting Fellow, Atlantic Council
Sibusiso Nhlabatsi, Human Rights Lawyer and Young African Leaders Initiative Fellow
Mooya Nyaundi, Staff Attorney for Sub-Saharan Africa, American Bar Association Center for Human Rights
Jeffrey Smith, Executive Director, Vanguard Africa Movement
Sydney Watae, Senior Program Manager, Southern & East Africa, National Democratic Institute
International Republican Institute
Ronald Reagan Events Center
1225 Eye Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, D.C. 20005
Zambians head to the polls on August 11, 2016 to participate in presidential, parliamentary and local elections, as well as a constitutional referendum that could potentially amend the Bill of Rights. The elections are expected to be a close two-party struggle between incumbent President Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front Party and Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development. Due to a constitutional amendment passed earlier this year, the winning presidential candidate must secure at least 50 percent of the vote, introducing the potential for a run-off contest. The political environment is tense, with outbreaks of violence between party supporters, government suppression of activists and the press, and accusations of election-rigging before the first vote has been cast.
These developments have raised fears that the elections will not be free and fair, and come amid increasing political volatility in the region. From economic crisis in Zimbabwe, to media censorship in South Africa’s local elections, to reignited conflict in Mozambique, to annulled Zanzibar elections last fall, there are serious challenges that put Southern Africa in an increasingly precarious position. Please join us to discuss these trends, challenges and the role of the international community in the region.