Opposition may win Zambia presidential vote, poll shows

LUSAKA – Zambia's main opposition Patriotic Front leader Michael Sata could get 46 percent of the vote in next week's presidential election, beating acting President Rupiah Banda, an opinion poll showed on Saturday.

Zambians will vote on October 30 to elect a replacement for late leader Levy Mwanawasa, who died in a French hospital in August.

The poll released by Steadman Group indicated Banda could receive 32 percent of votes while Hakainde Hichilema, who leads the United Party for National Development (UPND), the third largest party in parliament, is likely to get 20 percent.

Steadman Group said the random survey of 1,062 registered voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

"Even if there are only (a few) days remaining before election, many changes or events could occur at either national, regional and local level that can affect people’s views or voting intention," it said in a statement.

"(But) it is also assumed that there will be no significant changes in political alliances before the election."

There was no immediate comment from either Sata’s or Banda’s campaign teams.

Steadman Group is a prominent African market information group with over 400 permanent employees and access to 5,000 field staff in various markets in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The group predicted the late Mwanawasa’s victory against Sata in the 2006 presidential vote.

The latest opinion poll showed that about 61 percent of Zambians said the most critical problems they faced included a poor road network, poor water supply, high unemployment and hunger.

Investors and international lenders have praised Zambia for towing fiscally conservative policies, but critics, including the opposition party, say the government has failed to tackle poverty and unemployment.

Steadman Group said 25 percent of voters surveyed said they had complete confidence in next week’s election while 48 percent had some confidence and 16 percent had none. Reuters