Who is Hakainde Hichilema? What Makes Him A Strong Zambian Leader?

Hakainde Hichilema born 4 June 1963 is a Zambian businessman and politician elected as the President of Zambia in 2021. Hichilema is a strong and versatile Zambian leader. He won the 2021 Presidential elections after contesting five times in 2006, 2008, 2011, 2015 and 2016.

With more than 2.8 million votes, he secured a landslide against his long-time rival President Edgar Lungu, who garnered just over 1.8 million of the ballots cast on August 12.

Hakainde is also noted as a top Zambian millionaire and the second-largest cattle rancher in Zambia.

Early Life And Career

Hichilema, born in a village in Monze District in Zambia, received a scholarship to study at the University of Zambia and graduated with a Bachelors degree in Economics and Business Administration. Thereafter, he pursued an MBA in Finance and Business Strategy at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.

He served as the chief executive officer of both Coopers and Lybrand Zambia (1994–1998) and Grant Thornton Zambia (1998–2006).

Political Career

Hichilema is a member of the opposition United Party for National Development, a liberal political party. Following the death of Anderson Mazoka in 2006, he was elected as the party’s new President. He also served as the leader of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), an alliance of three opposition political parties.

In 2006 election, he was the candidate of the UDA and ran against President Levy Mwanawasa where Hichilema took third place with about 25% of the vote.

Hichilema ran as the UPND candidate in the 2008 election, which was called after the death of President Levy Mwanawasa. He came 3rd with 19.7% of the vote. In June 2009, Hichilema’s party, the UPND, formed a pact with Michael Sata’s Patriotic Front (PF) to contest the 2011 election together. However, indecision on the pact candidate, deep mistrust and accusations of tribalism from both sides resulted in the collapse of the pact in March 2011.

In the 2015 Presidential election, he was one of the two main candidates, which he lost by a narrow margin of 27,757 votes (1.66%) against the ruling party’s candidate, Edgar Lungu. Afterwards, he denounced the election as a sham and urged his supporters to remain calm. He again faced Lungu as the main opposition candidate in the August 2016 presidential election, and was again narrowly defeated.

In April 2017, he was arrested on suspicion of treason and charged with attempting to overthrow the government. He was in prison for 4 months before being given a Nolle prosequi.

As a result, protests broke out in Zambia, South Africa and the United Kingdom demanding the release of Hichilema and condemning Edgar Lungu’s authoritarian rule and deteriorating human rights in Zambia.

Hichilema was conferred with the Africa Freedom Award by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom on 27 October 2017 at an event held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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