Zambia’s veteran opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema is set to be sworn in as president later on Tuesday, raising the hopes of his counterparts in other African states that they too can overcome state repression and one day rise to power.
During a long political career that saw him fail in five previous bids to become president, Mr Hichilema was brutalised, tear-gassed and even detained for a traffic offence in 2017 that was deemed treasonous after his convoy failed to give way to the motorcade of outgoing President Edgar Lungu.
But in an extraordinary reversal of his fortunes, the man once declared an enemy of the state will be sworn in as Zambia’s seventh president after defeating Mr Lungu in their latest election duel on 12 August.
“It’s massively inspirational,” said Tanzanian opposition leader Tundu Lissu who survived an assassination attempt in 2017 after being shot 16 times by people he believes were state agents.
“Zambians have showed us it can be done, no matter what they put us through, no matter the odds,” he added.
Mr Lissu lost last year’s election to the late President John Magufuli, which he alleges was rigged.