President Levy Mwanawasa passed away in August 2008 after suffering a stroke at the end of June.
According to the constitution, a new president had to be elected within 90 days. A presidential election took place in October,
which the former vice-president, Rupiah Banda, won with 40 per cent of the closely contested vote, against 38 per cent for the
opposition Patriotic Front (PF) leader, Michael Sata. Before the elections, there was a contest over the nomination of the candidate
within the ruling party. The elections were mostly peaceful and rated free and fair by regional and international observers, but voter
turnout was markedly low with only 45 per cent of registered voters going to the polls.
The new president has repeatedly declared that he will continue the fight against corruption. The Anti- Corruption Commission
received more than 2 000 corruption complaints from the public in 2008. The majority of these complaints were against government
officials. However, due to a weak legal system not many higher-level officials have been convicted. Zambia was thus ranked as the 17th
most corrupt country in the world in 2007 by Transparency International. Nevertheless, with Freedom House reporting gains towards more
political freedom in Zambia, especially thanks to a better functioning of the judiciary, there are good prospects for improvement,
especially if the new constitution strengthens the autonomy of the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Office of the Auditor General.
In 2008, an Ethics Code for public service was developed, and ethics committees were established.
The Ethics Code will make civil
servants accountable for their actions and should help to increase efficiency in the public sector. The government also reiterated
its commitment to the continued enhancement of transparency in the mining sector by implementing the guidelines of the Extractive
IndustriesTransparency Initiative in the 2009-11 MTEF. Rejection by the cabinet of the Decentralisation Implementation Plan in 2008
has slowed progress in decentralisation. Whereas the Ministry of Local government and Housing wanted to promote local capacity building
and as a parallel process, deployment of functions from line ministries, the majority in the cabinet was of the opinion that capacity
building should come first. Capacity building was performed in the area of finance and audit for local councils.