Political system of Zambia

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Zambia is a presidential democracy in which the president is also the head of government . The executive branch is represented by the government exercised. The legislature is shared by parliament and government.

Government and constitution

Today's constitution , which came into force on August 25, 1973, is based on the 1964 constitution. Together with the elections that followed in December 1973, it sees itself as the final achievement called Participatory One-Party Democracy .

The 1973 constitution provides for a president with extensive powers and a one-chamber parliament. The political goals are set in the Central Committee of the United National Independence Party ( UNIP ), the only legal party in Zambia. The cabinet only has to carry out the decisions of the Central Committee.

The intention was to secure the supremacy of UNIP in this new system. The constitution stipulates that the only candidate for the presidency had to be the UNIP president elected by the party congress. The second most important man in the Zambian political hierarchy was the Secretary General of UNIP.

In December 1990, following violent political unrest and an attempted coup , the incumbent President Kenneth Kaunda signed a law that ended the supremacy of the UNIP. He bowed to the growing pressure in the population and their demand for a democratic multiparty system by beginning lengthy and difficult negotiations with the opposition, which ended in August 1991 with a new constitution. It expands the parliament, the National Assembly, from 136 to 158 seats, sets up an electoral commission and allows more than just one candidate for the presidential election who no longer needs to be a member of UNIP. This constitution was supplemented in 1996 by the retroactive provision that a president may only serve for two terms, both parents must be born in Zambia and eight of the 158 members of parliament and the speaker of parliament can appoint.

Zambia is divided into nine provinces, each administered by a Deputy Minister who essentially performs the duties of a governor .

Political history

The dominant political root of Zambian politics is the Copperbelt strike of 1935 and the establishment of the charities of the black Africans who organized the first and all the others. The dominant figure in Zambian politics from 1964 to 1991, who also emerged from this political field of Zambian welfare organizations, was Kenneth Kaunda , who led the struggle for the country's independence and successfully balanced the rivalries between the individual parts of the country with their numerous ethnic groups knew. Kaunda endeavored to base his government on his philosophy of " humanism ", condemning exploitation and emphasizing human cooperation, which should not be done at the expense of the individual.

One-party state

In February 1972 Zambia became a one-party state, the Second Republic of Zambia . All other political parties were banned. Kaunda was elected as the only candidate for president in the 1973 vote. At the same time parliamentary elections were held, for which only members of the UNIP were allowed to stand; nevertheless the seats were hotly contested. Kaunda's mandate was renewed in the December 1978 vote and also in the October 1983 “yes” / “no” vote. In the “elections” of 1983, 60 percent of those entitled to vote took part and 93 percent voted with “Yes”.

Movement for Multiparty System

Growing opposition to the UNIP's monopoly on power led to the establishment of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) in 1990 . It gathered a growing and sizeable group of influential Zambians, including prominent UNIP critics and union leaders. Over the year, President Kaunda approved a referendum on the one-party system, but in the face of continued opposition, dropped it and instead signed a constitutional amendment that made Zambia a multi-party system. The elections for Zambia's first multi-party parliament and for President since 1964 took place on October 31, 1991. The MMD candidate, Frederick Chiluba , won 81 percent of the vote over the previous incumbent Kenneth Kaunda. In the parliamentary elections, the MMD won 125 out of 150 seats, while the UNIP only got 25, of which it was able to win 19 in the Eastern Province .

MMD in government

At the end of President Chiluba's first term in 1996, the MMD's commitment to political reform had all but vanished in the face of the new elections. Numerous prominent supporters had switched to oppositional parties. President Chiluba, who had an overwhelming majority in parliament, pushed through some constitutional amendments in 1996 that excluded former President Kaunda and other opposition leaders from the upcoming presidential elections. From these elections in November 1996 , in which parliament was also elected, Chiluba emerged victorious. The MMD won 131 of 150 parliamentary seats. Kaunda's UNIP boycotted the elections to protest its leader's exclusion from running for president. She complained that the results of the elections had been manipulated by incorrect voter registration. Despite this boycott, the elections were peaceful. Five presidential candidates and over 600 parliamentary candidates from eleven parties took part. Afterwards, some opposition parties and non-governmental organizations declared the elections to be neither free nor fair. When President Chiluba began his second term in 1997, the opposition refused to recognize the results of the election, despite international efforts urging the MMD and the opposition to resolve the differences through dialogue.

In early 2001, supporters of President Chiluba launched a campaign aimed at changing the constitution to give him a third term. Citizens, the opposition and even a number of members of the ruling party exerted sufficient pressure to keep Chiluba away from a third term.

Presidential, parliamentary and local elections took place on December 27, 2001 . Eleven parties ran for election, which posed countless organizational problems. Opposition parties pointed to serious irregularities. Nevertheless, the MMD candidate Levy Mwanawasa was declared the winner by a narrow margin. On January 2, 2002, he took his oath of office. The election, which was negotiated in February 2003, was brought before the Supreme Court by three parties. The opposition won the majority of parliamentary seats in December 2001, but the subsequent by-elections gave the MMD a narrow majority in parliament.

Zambia under Mwanawasa

Levy Mwanawasa with his wife and Laura Bush

The government of Levy Mwanawasa is not characterized by exorbitant spending and increasing corruption like the government of Frederick Chiluba in its final years. He has since been arrested and has been charged with infidelity and corruption on multiple counts, which allay original fears that Mwanawasa would quietly ignore his predecessor's misconduct. In 2004 he had Roy Clark deported, a British citizen who had lived in Zambia for many years and who had satirically attacked the president in the Zambian Daily Mail . His former intention to eradicate corruption also visibly waned over time, just as major witnesses against Chiluba have since left the country. A constitutional revision commission set up by Mwanawasa was troubled by the question of who it should present its results to, which indicates the suspicion that it might influence the result.

In general, Mwanawasa's tenure is seen as an improvement on Chiluba's, which does not mean that Zambia is really happy with him. During the 2006 election campaign, voters were very critical, especially in the neglected north of Zambia. In the 2006 election in Zambia , the MMD finally lost its role as the dominant party. The candidate of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA), Hakainde Hichilema , a young businessman who succeeded the suddenly deceased Anderson Mazoka in the chairmanship of the United Party for National Development and that of the electoral alliance UDA, made a name for himself as the future bearer of hope for Zambia . The parties MMD, UDA and PF also proved to be dominant, so that Zambia can be described as a three-party system. UNIP will not be able to hold its own as a political force. The political field after the elections can be roughly characterized as follows: MMD strong in the conservative rural electorate, PF strong in the townships, UDA strong in the cities. The party system has thus adapted to the economic and social structure of Zambia.

The distribution of parliamentary seats among the provinces in the 2006 elections
province Number of parliamentary seats to be allocated
Northern Province 21st
Luapula 14th
Eastern Province 19th
Copperbelt 22nd
Central Province 14th
Lusaka 12
Northwest Province 12
Western province 17th
Southern province 19th
appointed by the President 8th
"Speaker" appointed by the President 1
total 159


The President has extensive government powers. The government and the cabinet are subordinate to him. The Zambian Armed Forces ( Zambian Defense Forces - ZDF) are subordinate to the defense minister. They are designed for internal defense. They consist of the Air Force and the Zambian National Service (ZNS). They mainly organize public projects. The finance minister presents the budget.

legislative branch

The National Assembly of Zambia , a unicameral parliament, is the legislative power in Zambia. It has 165 members (as of 2016). 156 of them are elected in the elections by a simple majority in their constituencies, eight are appointed by the President, as is the Speaker of Parliament . So there are a total of 165 mandates. All MPs are elected to the National Assembly for a period of five years.

For the party system in Zambia see: List of political parties in Zambia


Supreme Court in Lusaka

The Supreme Court is the highest court and the highest instance. Under him are the High Court , the Magistrate Courts and the Local Courts .

External relations

Zambia is a member of the Movement of Non-Aligned States , the Commonwealth of Nations , the African Union and its predecessor Organization for African Unity (OAU), the South African Development Community (SADC), and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which are their Is based in Lusaka.

President Kaunda has been a long-standing and ongoing advocate for change in southern Africa by supporting the liberation movements in Angola , Mozambique , Namibia , southern Rhodesia ( Zimbabwe ) and the Republic of South Africa . Many of these organizations had their headquarters in Lusaka in the 1970s and 1980s.

President Chiluba made a name for himself internationally in the mid and late 1990s. His government played a constructive role in the peace talks on Angola that led to the 1994 Lusaka Protocol. Zambia provided troops for UN peace missions in Mozambique, Rwanda and Sierra Leone . In addition, Zambia was the first African state to work with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to deal with the 1994 genocide in Rwanda .

In 1998 Zambia made decisive efforts to secure a ceasefire in the Democratic Republic of the Congo . Even after the signing of the ceasefire agreement in Lusaka in July and August 1999, it continued to support the peace efforts. This only subsided after the Joint Military Commission, which was supposed to monitor compliance with the armistice, moved to Kinshasa in September 2001 .

Zambia has joined the Arrivals on the International Criminal Court , which contains a bilateral agreement on immunity for U.S. military personnel under Article 98 .

Zambia is a member of the following international organizations: ACP , AfDB , COMESA , UN / ECA , FAO , G-19 , G-77 , IAEA , IBRD , ICAO , ICC , ICFTU , ICRM , IDA , IFAD , IFC , ILO , IWF , Interpol , IOC , IOM , ITU , MONUC , NAM , OAU , OPCW , PCA , SADC , UN , UNAMSIL , UNCTAD , UNESCO , UNIDO , UNMEE , UNMIK , UPU , WCL , WZO , WHO , WIPO , WMO , UNWTO , WTO

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