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Zambian voters' views

Zambian woman casts her vote [Archive from 2006]

Zambians tell the BBC what issues will influence their vote when they go to the polls on Thursday to choose a successor to the late President Levy Mwanawasa, who died in August after suffering a stroke.

Click on the links below to read some of their views:

Honest Mwandu, 36, engineer, Solwezi

Winniess Zunduna, 28, customer relations, Lusaka

Victor Mwanza, 27, professional, Livingstone

Charles Kaluba, 34, accountant, Chipata

Sidney Mwewa, 33, businessman, Mufulira

Mwananyanda Lewanika, 56, executive director, Lusaka

HONEST MWANDU, 36, ENGINEER, SOLWEZI, NORTH-WESTERN PROVINCE
At the moment I think that the candidate who has the much needed profile of delivery, the one who can give the people what they wish for is Michael Sata.

After the death of our president, we expected better from the ruling party.

I feel that the ruling party's candidate standing - Rupiah Banda - is not the right one, according to the vision of our late president.

What Banda is standing for is not what President Mwanawasa would have wanted.

We believed in what Mwanawasa had done for our country and I would have carried on voting for the ruling party but because our late president's wishes have not been fulfilled I cannot anymore.

I worry about my children's access to a good education and healthcare and so if we get the wrong choice now then the future of our children will be very bleak.

I am just praying to God that all the candidates respect our peaceful country so that whatever the outcome after Thursday's election, the peace that we have enjoyed in our country remains.

WINNIESS ZUNDUNA, 28, CUSTOMER RELATIONS, LUSAKA, LUSAKA PROVINCE
The main issue for me is peace - I want everything to be all right while everyone is voting.

I hope that there will be no rigging.

Since our late President Levy Mwanawasa became ill and then passed away it has been a strange time.

Zambia's late President Levy Mwanawasa

We have gone through a phase like no other.

But we have coped and I am grateful for that.

I am hoping for the best candidate to win: a God-fearing person, a person who will take this country to where it should be, someone who will restore the dignity for Zambians and restore our pride.

I am not going to reveal who my choice is.

It's my secret!

My clue though, is that I want the person who has respect for each and every Zambian to be our next president.

I think this situation that we are going through is a time like that of Moses and Joshua in the Bible - we are going to move forward and I believe that God has a great plan for my country.

VICTOR MWANZA, 27, PROFESSIONAL, LIVINGSTONE, SOUTHERN PROVINCE

I will definitely be voting on Thursday.

We have four candidates to choose from and so no-one can be sure who will win - it might be a shock.

So far it is looking like the two rivals - [ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy's Rupiah] Banda and [Patriotic Front's Michael] Sata - are leading. They are both very confident that they will win.

But only one can!

And then you look at Hichilema Hakainde - he is being very quiet.

You never know, maybe he will actually have the majority. He is a businessman and a wealthy and successful one and so he might be people's preferred candidate.

As far as I am concerned the economy matters to me. Zambia is at a point now where it is recognised internationally and so that must continue, growing with time; and when you look at Hakainde - a man who has the energy to double his revenues in such a short time - I think he is the character the Zambian economy needs.

I was doing a bit of my own analysis today and I think that he might have a very strong chance because he has been gaining popularity, especially amongst the farmers and the rural people.

I see Hakainde coming to victory soon because he has age on his side.

If he loses this one, I will accept but then 2011 must be his. His only disadvantage is his "Tonga tag" and it's something he has struggled to shake off.

After the economy, my next issue of concern is investor confidence. Investment is very important here in Livingstone and the effect of the financial problems in the US for us worry me. In Livingstone yesterday, there were no dollars in the whole of the town.

That on its own brought on anxiety.

I don't fear there will be rigging, like the opposition are predicting.

I believe that the electoral commission has been preparing everything for a transparent operation.

The judge in charge, she is very competent and people trust her very much.

She will not let Zambia down.

CHARLES KALUBA, 34, ACCOUNTANT, CHIPATA, EASTERN PROVINCE
I cannot tell you who I will vote for on Thursday. I want to keep it private.

But I can tell you that I am looking for someone who is going to deal with our problems - about 73% of Zambians live in poverty.

It is not right when our country has so much potential.

I want our new leader to be somebody who will drive the economy, who will be honest and not take advantage of Zambians.

I am among those who are above the poverty line but of course I mingle with others who are not and I feel for those who cannot afford more than a meal a day.

Here in the Eastern Province, agriculture is very important and many rely on it for their livelihoods.

Our land has so much potential to produce, and it does, but the farmers are not able to sell their produce at a real price - this is the problem because the price is controlled by the government.

So the farmers spend the whole year working but what they get for it is minimal.

The majority of farmers these days only grow enough for their own needs now.

However those who grow cotton need to sell it, which they do; but the price is too minimal. They have no say over the fixing of a fair price and so they have no choice but to sell at the government-determined price.

They don't make a profit and they stay poor.

I am married and my wife and I have a son of our own. We also look after four other children from my extended family.

Another thing that is an issue for me is education.

Zambian government schools are not all that unfortunately.

SIDNEY MWEWA, 33, BUSINESSMAN, MUFULIRA, COPPERBELT PROVINCE
There are a lot of issues that have prompted my voting choice but mainly it is the economy of our country.

To be very precise, the town where I come from here in the Copperbelt of Zambia is the largest producer of copper but the situation is very bad - in terms of infrastructure, roads, and housing.

Those are the critical areas that I am getting at.

The present government has failed to look into these issues very, very seriously.

This is a very rich district in terms of revenue and yet we have little to show for it.

Business hasn't been very good for me lately because of the huge fluctuation of the Kwacha - our currency - it is very unstable.

I import goods and so it difficult because the prices change greatly.

It is a great worry to me and that is another reason why we need change.

These fluctuations have been a problem recently because of the political uncertainty but I think it's just a temporary setback and will return to normal once the votes are counted.

I want the man who can look into the plight of people to win.

For me, that man is Michael Sata. He will be good for me because he wants to give the people a level playing field, from which their businesses can grow.

The other issue that is very, very important to me is housing.

There is such a problem because of the current government. They didn't plan for townships and suburbs and so the numbers of houses available are very limited compared to the population.

I rent but I really want to be in a position of owning my own place. Zambia needs a solution like South Africa, where they are building cost-effective homes which are affordable for normal people.

I hope this election will bring my country a good business environment in which I will be able to prosper; and then when the housing situation is sorted then I will have enough to buy a house of my own.

MWANANYANDA LEWANIKA, 56, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LUSAKA, LUSAKA PROVINCE

I cannot reveal my choice because it is a secret ballot.

I can say though that I think that the government path we have started on must continue; but in a way that brings diversification in the economy and agriculture.

This will bring the country self-sufficiency, especially concerning our food production with crops like maize, cassava and sorghum.

Another issue that is important for me is the management of corruption.

The current improvement that can be seen is down to the strengthened prosecution process. Corruption cases are being dealt with in a strict manner and this is sending a clear message.

The transition from our late President Mwanawasa's death has been very smooth, without chaos. That's a positive.

I was a great supporter of the late president. I think his party can continue what he began because it's a collective effort - he wouldn't have done what he did if it hadn't have been for his colleagues. It wasn't a one-man crusade.

I want to see people respecting the outcome of the election. We must not let what happened in Kenya and Zimbabwe happen here.


The readers' panel has been selected from as wide a cross-section as possible and may not be representative of wider public opinion.

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