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Published 7th December 2001

Vol 42 No 24


Too close to call

The gap between the leading presidential contenders is narrowing fast in this landmark election

It looks like Zambia's closest election ever, as eleven runners sprint, hobble and lurch towards the finish of the first-past-the-post contest on 27 December. The real prize is the presidency, with its supreme power, and its ability to assemble a coalition in parliament, where no party is likely to win a majority (AC Vol 42 No 21). The winner could obtain fewer than a third of the votes cast.Outgoing President Frederick Chiluba faces many of the same allegations as his neighbour in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe - assassination of opponents and grand corruption. Yet Chiluba has confronted only his domestic opponents, winning cautious approval from Western governments by his tough economic reforms and his (belated) sale of state interests in the copper mines. Far from attacking white farmers, Chiluba has invited white Zimbabweans to move north to Zambia. In the short term, Zambia has benefited financially from the chaos in Zimbabwe (AC Vol 42 No 23). His domestic opponents insist that Chiluba cannot allow his Movement for Multi-party Democracy to lose, for fear of prosecution on charges of corruption and human rights abuses. So much mud has been thrown at Chiluba, especially by former close associates, that the election is as much about his personality as about policies. The governing MMD's candidate, picked by Chiluba, is Levy Mwanawasa. The other front-runners are Anderson Mazoka of the United Party for National Development and General Christon Tembo of the Forum for Democracy and Development.

Maize power

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Maize meal helped drive Kenneth Kaunda from power and could do the same to the Movement for Multi-party Democracy which defeated him in the 1991 elections. When Kaunda cut subsidie...

Later rather than sooner

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Hopes for peace and for votes are once again put on hold

The blip of optimism has gone, the agony will continue. Forget serious efforts to end the guerrilla war and hold elections, at least until late 2003 or 2004. Angola's oil and gas a...

Bitter borders

Angolan troops have made raids into Zambia and nobody agrees about what is going on. After a bad patch, relations between the neighbours had seemed warmer lately and Presidents Jos...

Hard pressed

The media are failing to adapt to changing times – and they're losing money

All South Africa's main newspapers lose money. Journalists fear that that their publishers, by sharp cutbacks in editorial staff, will make the papers even blander and limit invest...

The focus shifts

After dislodging the Taliban in Afghanistan the USA has north-east Africa in its sights

This week, policymakers in Washington are debating what to do about Islamist terrorists in the Horn of Africa. There is much excited talk about joint anti-terror operations involvi...


Offal and waffle

Many unusual cargoes have been delivered to Sudan in recent years, as former resident Usama bin Laden knows. Yet one of the strangest (though not necessarily most dangerous) must s...

Rising Ravalomanana

Madagascans expect a close race in the 16 December presidential election when the main challenger to long entrenched President Didier Ratsiraka is the rank outsider, media magnate ...