Zambia's Lungu in trouble, as opposition gains backing of ex-ruling party leader Scott and defections mount

Lungu’s party defeated the opposition by less than 28,000 votes in 2015, when voter turnout was a mere 32% in a nation of almost 16 million people

ZAMBIA’S main opposition party’s chances of winning general elections in August received a boost with the announcement of support from Guy Scott, a former acting president of the southern African nation. 

Scott, 71, served as president for three months after Michael Sata died in office in 2014 and helped President Edgar Lungu’s ruling Patriotic Front win power. Miles Sampa, a former deputy commerce minister under Lungu, also agreed to work with the United Party for National Development (UPND) before the vote, the opposition party said in an e-mailed statement. More PF members may follow because they’re being sidelined, Scott said in a phone interview Tuesday. 

“I can’t cry about it; that’s not going to bring anything back,” he said. “The only thing to do is to go and wallop them.”

The PF has been hit by a raft of defections since Lungu took over after a bitter leadership battle that followed Sata’s death. Former ministers of defense, tourism and commerce have switched their allegiance to the UPND.

Zambia is facing its toughest economic crisis in at least a decade, with low copper prices leading to thousands of mining-job losses and a severe electricity shortage hobbling growth.

Lungu’s PF defeated the UPND by less than 28,000 votes in 2015, when voter turnout was 32% in the nation of almost 16 million people.

Scott helped Sata build the Patriotic Front after it was formed in 2001 until it ended the 20-year rule of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy a decade later. He was Sata’s deputy president in the government and the party.


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