Country Report Zambia April 2010

The political scene: A new political party is formed

On March 2nd Elias Chipimo, a prominent Lusaka lawyer and graduate of Oxford University, announced the formation of a new political party called the National Restoration Party (Narep). Narep's formation comes just 18 months before the elections, giving it very little time to mobilise grassroots support. Furthermore, Narep is largely perceived as an elitist party, so garnering support among the rural population-which constitutes the vast majority of the elector-ate-will be particularly challenging. As a result, it is unlikely to win many seats at the parliamentary elections in 2011. In theory, Narep could still undermine Mr Sata's electoral prospects by splitting the urban vote-urban voters are a key component of Mr Sata's core support base. However, this is unlikely for two reasons. First, although Mr Chipimo is a well-respected lawyer, he does not command the level of support required for him to be a significant threat to Mr Sata. Second, Mr Chipimo is a close ally of the minister of livestock and fisheries, Bradford Machila, and there is a strong possibility that he will form an electoral pact with the MMD. This would alienate him from Mr Sata's support base, which consists largely of voters who are disgruntled with the MMD.

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