was colonized in the 1890's by the British South Africa Company (BSA Co.)
on behalf of the British Crown. The Company concluded a series of concessions
with African Chiefs, but those tribes that resisted, such as the Ngoni
under Mpezeni, were defeated on the battlefield. At first, the territory
was administered as two separate units: North-Eastern Rhodesia and North
However, in 1911, the two units were amalgamated to form Northern Rhodesia, which was administered by an administrator appointed by the BSA Co. The British High Commissioner based in Nyasaland supervised him initially, and later the High Commissioner based in South Africa supervised him.
Company rule ended in 1924 when, under the Devonshire Agreement, the Company ceded control of the territory to the British government. An all- powerful governor, appointed by the crown, ruled Northern Rhodesia assisted by a Legislative Council. The territory was part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland from 1953 to 1963. The Federation was established despite overwhelming opposition from Africans in the three territories, who saw it as a vehicle for European domination.
Africans were denied the right to vote or to participate actively in government during the colonial period. Furthermore, they were subjected to racial discrimination in all spheres of life. This fuelled the struggle for self-determination and independence. The struggle for independence was led initially by Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula's African National Congress (ANC) and later by Kenneth Kaunda's United National Independence Party (UNIP).
attained its independence on 24th October 1964. The Independence
Constitution provided for a multi-party republican form of government,
a judicious bill of rights, an independent judiciary and separation of
powers. Certain parts of the Constitution, such as the Bill of Rights
and the guarantees of judicial independence could only be altered by national
referendum. The form of government was a combination of the Westminster
and American presidential systems. The President was elected directly
by the people while the Cabinet and Deputy Ministers were chosen from
members of the National Assembly. The ruling political party was UNIP
and its leader, Kenneth Kaunda, became the first President of Zambia.
UNIP and Kaunda were returned to power in the 1968 presidential and general
elections. Opposition parties, such as the ANC, were constantly harassed,
as their leaders were often detained or restricted under emergency regulations.
Some, such as Nalumino Mundia's United Party (UP) and Simon M. Kapwepwe's
United Progressive Party (UPP), were proscribed. A state of emergency
was imposed by the last governor of Northern Rhodesia, Sir Evelyn
Hone, on 27th July 1964, to enable the government to deal effectively
with an uprising by a religious sect, the Lumpas, led by a self-proclaimed
prophetess, Alice Lenshina. Almost 700 people lost their lives in clashes
between the security forces and the Lumpa followers. Thousands of Lumpa
followers fled to Congo Kinshasa (now called DRC). Although the uprising
was suppressed within months the state of emergency was not lifted
and continued in force until November 1991. The main justification
for its retention was the geo-political situation in southern Africa.
Countries under minority white rule surrounded Zambia and it provided
rear bases for African Liberation movements that were fighting against
oppression. After the various neighbouring countries got their independence,
the justification shifted to the need to protect the economy against sabotage.
In the economic field, the government, starting in 1968, nationalized the major means of production, including the copper mines, in a bid to wrest economic power from foreigners and empower Zambian nationals. At the height of nationalization, the state controlled 80% of the economy. The period up to 1972 was known as the First Republic.
|The Second and Third Republics|
December 1972, a one party state was introduced by legislative
fiat, ostensibly to unite the nation and accelerate economic and social
development. In reality, the government was responding to growing dissension
within the ruling party that threatened to tear UNIP apart and brightened
the chances of the opposition coming to power. A new constitution was
drafted and was mainly based on the recommendations of the Chona Constitutional
Review Commission, which had been appointed to recommend the modalities
for the operation of the one-party state. It took effect in August 1973.
Under that Constitution, UNIP was the only political party allowed
to exist. The bill of rights was retained with necessary modifications
particularly as regards freedom of expression, assembly and association,
and freedom from discrimination on the ground of political opinion. It
was an offence to attempt to create another political party or to express
views in favour of another political party. Elections, especially presidential
ones (where only one candidate was allowed), ceased to be competitive.
The President's powers were enlarged and became virtually uncontrollable.
Judicial independence was weakened as the Judicial Service Commission,
which was responsible for administering the Judiciary, was politicised
and dominated by presidential appointees, most of whom were non-lawyers.
One Party Era, which was known as the Second Republic,
was characterized by reduced political space as a result of a powerful
executive presidency, a meek parliament, lack of an independent press
and an almost non-existent civil society. There were massive violations
of human rights during that period, especially detention without
trial and torture of suspects. The economy collapsed during this
period as a result of many factors, including:
In 1990 the government was forced to concede to demands for the introduction of a multi-party democracy. The Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) led the fight for change. The collapse of Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe inspired the advocates for change in Zambia. Moreover, owing to the collapse of the economy and lack of democracy the government had lost legitimacy. In December 1990 the Constitution was amended in order to allow for the formation of political parties. A new Constitution, based mostly on the recommendations of the Mvunga Constitutional Review Commission, was drafted and came into effect in August 1991. It ushered in the Third Republic.
In landmark elections that were held in October 1991, UNIP and its leader, Kenneth Kaunda, suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the MMD and its leader, Frederick Chiluba, the former President-General of the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions. The new government won more than two thirds of the seats in the National Assembly, enabling it to pass laws and constitutional amendments.
|(Resources: Country Insight and Democracy Factfile Zambia, SARDC, Harare, 2000; Websites: http://www.cia.gov)|