It was a case of sixth time fortunate for Hakainde Hichilema, who has lastly develop into president of Zambia after 5 unsuccessful makes an attempt.
Mr Hichilema defeated his predominant rival, the outgoing President Edgar Lungu, by greater than 1,000,000 votes.
However who’s the brand new president? And why has he succeeded after years of failure?
Mr Hichilema, 59, has described himself as an unusual “cattle boy”, who herded his household’s livestock in his youth earlier than occurring to develop into one in every of Zambia’s richest males.
The president-elect and chief of the United Social gathering for Nationwide Growth (UPND) is extensively known as HH. He was born into humble beginnings earlier than managing to get a scholarship to the College of Zambia, and later graduated with an MBA diploma from the College of Birmingham within the UK.
He went on to make a fortune in finance, property, ranching, healthcare and tourism.
He has used each features of his background to enchantment to voters.
He advised voters that they wanted a profitable businessman to grasp easy methods to get the financial system shifting within the copper-rich nation, the place there may be excessive unemployment. He additionally used his agricultural roots to enchantment to the nation’s farmers, saying he might flip Zambia right into a meals basket for the area.
Nevertheless it was Mr Hichilema’s means to attach with youthful voters that was maybe the largest consider his success. Greater than half of the seven million registered voters in Zambia are beneath the age of 35. Round one in 5 of them are unemployed.
The governing Patriotic Entrance (PF) swept to energy in 2011 on the promise of “much less taxes, extra money in folks’s pockets and extra jobs”. However this didn’t materialise for a lot of younger folks they usually turned out of their thousands and thousands for Mr Hichilema.
One of many methods he linked with younger folks was by social media. This was not the primary election that Mr Hichilema tried to make use of the likes of Fb and Twitter to attach with voters, however he has just lately upped his recreation.
He has additionally been prepared to play soiled.
Final yr he launched a video entitled “The story of two professionals…”, which offered Mr Hichilema as a shrewd and accountable businessman, and Mr Lungu as somebody who spent all his cash in bars and nightclubs. “Which of those two is smarter?” the video requested.
Mr Hichilema would usually touch upon social media tendencies away from politics, notably soccer – a sure-fire method to join with voters. He would typically playfully taunt followers of Manchester United and Arsenal if their group misplaced.
He additionally congratulated Zambian gamers who landed large cash strikes to Europe, together with Patson Daka, who just lately joined Leicester Metropolis, and Trend Sakala, who signed for Scottish champions Rangers. He would even touch upon their pre-season pleasant video games, seemingly displaying a real curiosity of their careers. Mr Lungu tried related techniques, however many felt it got here throughout as compelled.
Mr Hichilema would usually use slang on social media, together with the time period “bally”, a casual approach of addressing somebody as your father. Hashtags like #BallyWillFixIt was utilized in an effort to talk the language of individuals within the markets and bars, not simply the enterprise elites.
It appeared to work.
Hundreds of Mr Hichilema’s supporters flocked onto the streets of Lusaka after his victory, chanting “let’s go Bally”.
Mr Hichilema has proven resilience in his political profession. Alongside along with his 5 electoral losses, he usually reminds those that he has been arrested 15 occasions since entering into politics.
In 2016, he was charged with treason for allegedly failing to present method to the presidential motorcade. He spent 4 months in a maximum-security jail earlier than the costs have been dropped.
In his acceptance speech, President-elect Hichilema prolonged an olive department to his predecessor.
“Don’t be concerned, you will be OK, you will not face retribution or get teargassed,” mentioned Mr Hichilema, who was usually attacked in what he mentioned have been makes an attempt to silence and intimidate him as an opposition chief.
After lastly getting the highest job, Mr Hichilema will little question be celebrating. However the brand new president-elect might want to get to work quick in a rustic dealing with many issues.
Together with excessive unemployment, the price of residing has additionally elevated quickly.
For the primary time since 1998, Zambia plunged right into a recession final yr because the Covid-19 pandemic unfold throughout the globe.
As for the cash the nation owes to international lenders, it’s estimated to be greater than $12bn (£8.6bn).
Which means that the federal government finally ends up spending not less than 30% of its income on curiosity funds, based on credit score rankings agency S&P World.
Final yr, Zambia missed an curiosity reimbursement, making it the primary African nation to default on a mortgage throughout the pandemic. It is usually dealing with difficulties repaying different loans.
Mr Hichilema’s wave of recognition will subside if he can not begin fixing a few of these issues, and fast.