In 2013, the government removed the subsidies for the country’s farmers. The state had previously paid 75% of the price for i.e. artificial fertilizers and these grants now fell away. The extra expense went on to consumers. For example. the price of corn increased 20% during 2013.
Sata died at a London hospital in October 2014. The post was temporarily taken over by White Vice President Guy Scott. It was the first time since the apartheid regime in South Africa that the continent had a white president. According to constitutions, presidential elections were to be conducted within 90 days of Sata’s death. However, Scott was barred from running for election as the Constitution also required both parents to have Zambian citizenship. Still, Scott tried to eliminate his biggest rival when, less than a week after Sata’s death, he fired the Secretary of the Patritic Front, Edgar Lungu. However, he had to reinstate Lungu the day after due to extensive demonstrations in Lusaka.
In January 2015, according to Countryaah data, presidential elections were held. it was narrowly won by Patriotic Front’s Edgar Lungu with 48.3% of the vote, while Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND) got 46.7%. Lungu was posted to the post a few days later. He had been Minister of Defense and Minister of Justice in Sata’s government, and had been acting president for long periods during Sata’s illness in 2013-14.
Lungu made Inonge Wina his vice president. It was the first time the country got a female vice president.
In July 2015, President Lungu turned 332 prisoners’ death sentences into life imprisonment. At the same time, he condemned the massive overcrowding of the Mukobeko prison, which he characterized as a “violation of human dignity”.
Electricity shortages led to daily power cuts of up to 14 hours from July. This in turn meant that many businesses and mines had to scale down and fire employees. This in turn affected the economy. During the year, Kwansa lost 80% of its value in terms of US $. 95% of the country’s electricity comes from hydroelectric power stations that have historically supplied both Zambia and Zimbabwe, but global climate change has led to rainfall and therefore the hydroelectric power stations are driving too much power. The rainfall has been reduced to less than half the normal and with the current el Niño an improvement was expected at the earliest in 2018.
In April 2016, a wave of violence targeting foreigners in Zingalume and George Compounds started following rumors of ritual killings. Stores from merchants from Rwanda and Zimbabwe were plundered. Two Zimbabwean citizens were burned to death and the perpetrators were subsequently tried and convicted of murder.
In August 2016, parliamentary and presidential elections were held. Lungu was elected president with 50.35% of the vote against 47.6% for opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema. Hichilema complained about the election to the Supreme Election Commission and tried to get the result reversed, but after a week the commission rejected the complaint. President Lungus PF went up to 20 seats up to 80, thus obtaining an absolute majority in the 156-seat parliament. Hichilema’s UPND advanced 30 seats to 58. Former President Chiluba’s MMD, in turn, was almost eradicated. It lost 52 seats and had to settle for 3. At the same time as the elections, a referendum on a number of constitutional amendments was carried out. 71.1% voted for the changes, but the voting turnout was only 44.4% and thus below the 50% required for the vote to be valid.
Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND) was arrested along with the party’s deputy chairman in October 2016 as they were on their way to visit some of the party members who were sitting in the jail. Hichilema and several other party members were again jailed in April 2017 and charged with treason. Police claimed that Hichilema had not gotten off the road when the presidential car driver drove by.
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The regime cracked down on independent media throughout the year. According to thesciencetutor, deveral radio and TV licenses were withdrawn by the state media council.