Lusaka. The Zambian president Edgar Lungu, elected in January 2015, is up for another term’s bid on August 11 this year, barely two years after being sworn in.
He was sworn in soon after the January 20 vote, and his short stay in power has been eventful.
Lungu succeeded the gruff and populist Michael Sata, the second Zambian head of state to die in office - in 2014 - after Levy Mwanawasa did the same in 2008.
Those fears were rekindled when, several weeks into Lungu’s presidency, he collapsed while officiating at the an International Women’s Day event in front of hundreds of people inside the Chinese-built stadium in the capital Lusaka.
The fall sent shivers across the country and exposed his frailty to a country where presidents rarely discuss their health in public. However, the debate about it seems to have died a natural death, thanks to doctors’ intervention.
The slender and tall lawyer, aged 59, was from the time he assumed office, viewed as meek, although that perception soon started to shift after he began using tough language against his opponents who he threatened to “fall on like a ton of bricks’’.
Many commentators believed Lungu had not yet caught a grip over his party and government, having been propelled to power by a group of Sata’s tribesmen, the Bemba, who were in control of the governing Patriotic Front (PF) party.
Yet the President soon appointed many of his own people to the Cabinet as a balancing act. He also blended his Cabinet with members of the former ruling party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD).
The move did not go down well with die-hard PF party members, who accused him of sacrificing them at the altar of political expediency to win support from the MMD.
Despite the barrage of criticism, President Lungu remained steadfast.
He scored well by appointing Zambia’s first woman Vice-President, Ms Inonge Wina, a move that won him accolades from Zambia’s womenfolk.
There was really not much about appointments as president Lungu did not make drastic changes to the late Sata’s line-up, giving hope to party supporters he was going to keep his predecessor’s vision alive.