Our guards said the lines were very, very long at the polls but that people were happy, and “ready for a change!” (They said this with much enthusiasm.) Now, our guards are all young guys, in their 20s, and from what I’ve read that is typical of Sata’s supporters (who is the challenger; the incumbent is Rupiah Banda). I take the big turn-out and long lines as an excellent sign here in Zambia — it means that people believe their individual vote counts and they’re willing to invest hours if needed to stand in lines and have their voices heard.
Though the young guys who work for us are eager for change, they are quick to point out that they’re a little skeptical if it will really occur (they’re afraid of corruption). They’re also quick to say that no matter what, they don’t want the type of violent demonstrations and government overthrows that have occurred in Northern Africa this year to happen here. No matter what.
If Sata is declared winner and Banda concedes, then I bet all will be well here. However, if Banda is declared winner, I think there will be big protests. Sata lost the last election in 2008 by a mere 35,0000 votes. Hardly a pin drop. And Sata seems to be itching for a fight. The lead article in the newspaper sympathetic to Banda emphasizes the police will maintain control (see this). The lead article in the newspaper sympathetic to Sata already is claiming anomalies in voting (see this).
The electoral commission said they will release the election results on Thursday (see this).
Meanwhile, a whole country holds their breath.