ZAMBIA president Edgar Lungu’s pledge in February 2015 that “not a single job would be lost” was admirable, but ultimately he could not support it through action. Whilst he sought to protect jobs by reversing legislation that had earlier tripled mining royalties to 20% of revenue for certain open cast miners, the slide in the copper price proved pitiless. Glencore, Vedanta and First Quantum Minerals announced curtailments and restructuring of operations. There was pressure on Lungu from the Confederation of Trade Unions of Zambia to take over some of the mines reflecting the leftist side to Zambia politics, but it was never a step Lungu could sanction. In contrast to his former compatriot in the Patriotic Front, the late president Michael Sata whom he succeeded, Lungu seems to be a more moderate leader. He asked mining companies to show balance when they restructured their operations, but the drought that has lowered dam levels in sub-Saharan Africa compounded their problems after Lungu’s government was forced to cut electricity supplies. Whether Lungu’s conciliatory approach helps him in the 2016 elections – he had been appointed to serve out Sata’s term after winning a by-election by a mere 1.6% over rival Hakainde Hichilema – is another matter. Bad health has also dogged Lungu.
LIFE OF EDGAR
Edgar Lungu won a tightly contested national election in 2015 following the death in October 2014 of former president, Michael Sata. He has a law degree from the University of Zambia and worked as an attorney before entering politics. Prior to winning the national election, he was Zambia’s justice and defence minister. He is married with six children.
- Web Address: www.zambia.gov.za