Zambia’s new president, Hakainde Hichilema, has promised to turn around the country’s economy, which is beset by massive debt, and to ensure that no Zambian goes to bed hungry.
On Tuesday, Hichilema was sworn in in front of tens of thousands of fans at Lusaka’s Heroes Stadium.
“I pledge to faithfully and conscientiously fulfill my duties,” he stated while clutching a bible during his swearing-in.
“We have demonstrated the strength of our democracy to the rest of the world,” remarked a man known on the street as “HH” or “Bally,” an affectionate moniker for an elderly person.
“The expense of living will soon be a reality,” he stated on Tuesday, noting that inflation has rendered basic commodities expensive for a population that has grown by more than half in the last decade.
Zambians must be able to eat “three decent meals a day”. “Truly free”
The millionaire businessman will also have to tackle the problem of a debt estimated at ten billion euros, half of which is owed to private creditors, notably Chinese.
His predecessor, Edgar Lungu, was criticized for having borrowed unreasonably, as he embarked on a frenzy of bridge, road, and airport construction.
Mr. Lungu had also become increasingly repressive of any criticism, shutting down independent media outlets and arresting opposition figures.
“HH” will ensure “that all Zambians are truly free,” with independent media and strong institutions. “We will restore the rule of law, general order, and bring our country back to normal.”
Hakainde Hichilema defeated incumbent Edgar Lungu in Zambia’s presidential election, with 2,810,777 votes overLungu’s 1,814,201.
It was Mr. Hichilema’s sixth attempt at winning the presidency.