UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has taken a comfortable lead in the presidential race from the eight constituencies that have so far being released by the Electoral Commission of Zambia.
Mr Hichilema’s tally rose to 47, 706 after President Edgar Lungu’s 41 572 after five more constituencies were announced.
The five constituencies whose results were announced by ECZ Chairman Essau Chulu after midnight were from Ikelengi, Masaiti, Vubwi, Mambilima and Mulobezi.
In Masaiti, Mr Hichilema polled 7,794 while President Lungu had 6,421 followed by Andyford Banda of the People’s Alliance for Change who managed 56.
Savior Chishimba of the UPP was fourth with 35 followed by UNIP’s Tilyenji Kaunda who got 28 and Edith Nawakwi of the FDD who had 23 and Peter Sinkamba of the Green Party with 14 while Wynter Kabimba of the Rainbow Party received 13 votes and Maxwell Kabamba of the DA had 10 votes.
In Vubwi, President Edgar Lungu polled 6,023 followed by Mr Hichilema with 2,238 votes and Edith Nawakwi with 221 votes while Andyford Banda of PAC had 128 followed by UNIP’s Tilyenji Kaunda with 92 votes and Mr Kabimba of the Rainbow had 79 followed by UPP’s Savior Chishimba with 57 while Mr Kabamba of the DA had 25 and Peter Sinkamba from the Greens party had 22 votes.
In Mambilima constituency, President Lungu was leading with 8,492 followed by Mr Hichilema with 1,735, Mr Banda of PAC with 136 and Ms. Nawakwi of the FDD with 103 and UNIP with 57, UPP 28, DA 17, Rainbow 9 and the Greens party with 7.
Ikelengi, HH polled 12,229 while President Lungu managed 958 and FDD had 68 votes followed by PAC with 37 and Rainbow Party and UPP tied with 28 votes each while the Green party had 19 votes and UNIP with 17 and the DA got 8.
In Mulobezi, Mr Hichilema polled 7,352 votes while President Lungu received 2,058 and UNIP had 192 followed by PAC with 35, UPP 28, FDD with 21 and Rainbow party with 19 and Green party with 15 and the DA had 13.
Justice Chulu announced that the next briefing is expected at 11 Hours Sunday.
Zambia, a British colony until 1964, recorded GDP growth of 3.6 percent last year — its slowest rate since 1998.
The falling price of copper, the country’s key export, has badly damaged the economy with thousands of jobs lost in mining and inflation soaring to over 20 percent.
But Zambia, in contrast to neighbours like Angola and Zimbabwe, has escaped war and serious upheaval in recent decades.
It last held a peaceful transfer of power to an opposition party in 2011 when Michael Sata took office.
Sata died in 2014, and the 2015 election gave Lungu the right to finish his term.
“I will be back home waiting for the results to be announced peacefully. I urge you to do the same,” Lungu, 59, said in a statement after voting on Thursday.
– ‘Do-or-die’ affair –
An EU monitoring team, which had 120 observers on duty across Zambia, was due to give its first assessment of the election on Saturday.
Analysts had warned that the vote count could be tense.
“Both parties have approached the election as a ‘do-or-die’ affair,” said Dimpho Motsamai, of the South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies.
“Prospects of violence after the election and during the run-off cannot be ruled out.”
Election turnout was high, election officials said, with voters forming long queues to cast their ballots for the national assembly and local councillors as well as the presidency.
The election also included a constitutional referendum on amending the bill of rights.