In the run-up to Tuesday’s polls there are questions being asked about just how far China’s influence in Zambia spreads, and if Chinese money is bankrolling the incumbent presidential candidate Rupiah Banda and his party the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD).
President Rupiah Banda in Kitwe opening up toilet and tower units – August 2011 The MMD’s Rupiah Banda is campaigning on the back of his party’s infrastructure investment
Beyond the claims that the Banda-branded lollipops being given out to potential voters by the MMD were made in China, the sheer scale of the ruling party’s campaign has raised many eyebrows about funding sources.
Neo Simuntanyi, director of the left-leaning Lusaka-based think tank Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), told the BBC that Zambian party financing was totally opaque and it was hard to really know where money was coming from.
“Although there’s no way to prove it, there are a lot of suspicions that the MMD is maybe benefiting from Chinese support just because of the sheer scale of their campaign,” he said.
“The MMD has never had that kind of money before and you can see that in how well-oiled their campaign machine has been and how big their presence is everywhere around the country.”