1 C
Alba Iulia
Friday, February 21, 2020

Strengthening Our Zambian Democracy

Columns Strengthening Our Zambian Democracy

Zambia's first cabinet
Zambia’s first cabinet

By Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.

It was Professor Mubanga Kashoki in 1979 who said something so significant about Zambian or African scholarship that applies to day more than ever. In his scholarly article: “Indigenous Scholarship in African Universities: The Human Factor”, Kashoki said: “But perhaps the greatest failure of African Universities, particularly of the manpower-factory type, is to produce men and women who are, in the main, equipped intellectually only to reproduce concepts, models, theories, and solutions to human problems conceived, assembled, and packaged in Western settings by Western man.”(Kashoki, 1979: p.176) I would add beyond what Kashoki said that today this includes “Western woman”.

He implied that we Zambians or African intellectuals act as though the West has already discovered all the knowledge and all we have to do is follow Western footsteps uncritically imitating whatever they do. In many cases, Kashoki implies, we intellectuals abandon our original thought, abandon our countries such as Zambia and join them in Europe, North America and elsewhere. Many of us intellectuals now in the Zambian diaspora have done just that. To a large extent we can apply this thinking to the way we look at our democracy in Zambia and may be in other African countries. This article will explore briefly how we Zambians developed our own democracy, what has happened since the August 11 elections, compare Zambian democracy to American democracy, and finally I will strongly specifically recommend what we Zambians should do to further strengthen our own democracy since the disputed August 11 elections results.

Zambian Democracy

I was fortunate enough this past May and June to witness the Presidential electoral campaigns in Zambia and followed the drama of the August post-election results through the press once I returned to the United States. I have followed the American Presidential electoral campaigns between Hillary Clinton of the Democrat Party and the tumultuous Donald Trump campaign of the Republican Party. What can we learn from these 2 democracies?

The Zambian one is about 52 years old although some might wrongly argue that there was no democracy in Zambia until 1991 when the One-Party State ended. But that’s another serious argument for another time. The American democracy is 240 years old. Can we conclude that the American democracy is superior because it is bigger, involves 313 million people, older and more mature especially when we look at the recent Presidential campaign whose vitriol from candidate Trump was shocking and stunned everybody? Can we argue that the Zambian democracy is inferior because it is younger and after all in Africa, involves a small country of only 14 million people, especially when the legal and electoral system could not amicably resolve the election results impasse between United Party for National development (UPND) and Patriotic Front?

After 30 years of British colonialism and over 10 years of the struggle for independence, Zambians voted for the first time under universal suffrage of one man one vote. The United National Independence Party (UNIP) won the election in January 1964 in a land slide in which UNIP led by President Kaunda won 56 seats in parliament and the African National Congress (ANC) led by Harry Nkumbula won only 9 seats. The Federal Party led by White settlers virtually disappeared.

Something very significant happened in the evolution of the uniquely Zambian democracy from 1964 to 1991; the One-Party State. The vast majority of Zambians from the 72 tribes joined UNIP with the burning objective of bringing development and self-reliance to Zambians. They wanted to dismantle the exploitative colonial capitalist system. In Chapter 16: “The evolution of government and multiparty democracy in modern Zambia from 1964 to 1991” in my book “Satisfying Zambian Hunger for Culture” (2012), I conclude that it was during the One-Party State that Zambians developed the foundation of the multiparty democracy we enjoy today. Contrary to Western and many Zambian or African scholars, and other citizens who characterize this period as being led by “Kaunda the Autocrat”, “Kaunda the Authoritarian”, “there was a dictatorship”, “oppression”, “One-party dictatorship”, that is not what actually happened in Zambia. The unique development of our own democracy involved everything good and bad that happened in Zambia over the last 52 years.

American Democracy

American democracy has existed for more than 240 years. The White European settlers of the original 13 American colonies fought the British Colonists and won in the Revolutionary wars between 1760 – 1791. During this period from 1791, women did not vote until 1920. The only people who could vote were White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASP) men who were wealthy, owned land and often slaves. About 4 million African-American during slavery and emancipation did not vote until after the passing of the Civil Rights bill in 1964.

During these 240 years, America may have been a virtual One-Party State because there was not one political party that strongly advocated the removal of capitalism and slavery of Africans. Why was this not the case if they were a multiparty democracy with powerful opposition? The Civil War was over whether the Southern slave states could continue slavery. Indeed, many Americans especially the top political leadership rightly believe that the American nation is always in the process of making a better Union of the United States; it is always a work in progress in making the nation a better representative Republic. Technically, America is not a democracy in the sense of one man or woman vote to determine who is going to be the president, just as an example.

The shock that happened between Donald Trump and the Republican Party is part of America growing and continuing to strengthen her democracy. The American system of “Electoral Votes” which was created by the founders of the nation has resulted in Donald Trump getting 62,851,436 votes winning the Presidency. However, Hillary Clinton of the Democrat Party won 65,527,625 votes winning by more than 2.5 million of the popular vote more than Trump. If the American Presidential elections were by popular vote, Hillary Clinton would be President. But she lost because the democracy is based on the “Electoral Votes” system.

Experience of All Democracies

All democracies in the world have their own unique histories and challenges. There are those critics who will say: “How does little Prof. Tembo dare put the great America on the same level as useless Zambian democracy? America is big, sophisticated, old Western democracy and technologically very advanced and has sent man to the moon?” My point is that we fail to appreciate and recognize the challenges that we have overcome in creating our own democracy. But like Kashoki said 37 years ago, we in Zambia tend to be intimidated, look over our shopulders and elsewhere to find out what is authentic and empirically valid about our own intellectual and other forms of epistemology. We often overlook or give very grudging credit to events we ourselves or fore fathers initiated and our founders of the Zambian nation.

Zambia August Elections

There are those critics who will say that the non-existent, or weak Zambian democracy failed to solve the UDNP and Patriotic Front (PF) election impasse, therefore my point of view is intellectually empty and simply supporting or giving cover to the alleged rigging by the ruling party PF and President Lungu. These negative views would be misguided because I think all citizens of Zambia should see the election impasse as an opportunity to strengthen our democracy. The only question is how? Carrying on the grudge and protest about the August 11 election impasse for the next 5 years is unproductive and untenable.

During the August Presidential election The PF and Edgar Lungu won 1,860,877 which was 50.35%of the vote; the UPND and Hakainde Hichilema won 1,760,347 which was 47.35% of the votes. The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) declared the PF and Edgar Lungu the winner. The UPND lodged a petition alleging massive rigging by the PF. The Zambian Constitutional Court threw out the petition because the 14 days within which it is legally allowed to adjudicate and rule on the case had expired. There have been protests and court filings since then.

My thinking is that this electoral impasse and many problems leading to the August 11 elections are things that we need to fix as Zambians. Before the next election, we need to make sure that many of the issues are resolved. Then our democracy will grow even stronger. The solution is not to denounce everybody and act as if we can just import ready-made democracy from somewhere, and install it to work best for Zambia. Whatever difficulties we are going through are what it will take to create a stronger democracy and therefore stronger nation going into the future.


1.Politically motivated violence, intimidation, corruption, inflammatory incendiary campaign rhetoric using the media, and muzzling of the press should never be accepted as a normal part of Zambian elections. The various court petitions, critical opinions in the media, protest, and other means of expression against the August 11 election results can continue.

The diaspora Zambians in South Africa apparently were petitioning President Jacob Zuma not to welcome President Lungu because of the Aug 11 election impasse. All of these actions of protest will not solve the next or future election problems not just alleged rigging. This is why I recommend that as Zambians we constitute a Commission of Inquiry with members from all the political parties including of course UPND and PF.

The commission should agree first that the aim is not to change the current political leadership or to overturn the August 11 election results. It is too late to do that now. But rather to investigate thoroughly through public hearings all the problems of our current election process in the whole country. The commission should travel throughout the whole country to get citizen input. There are those critics who will say this would be a waste of time and money since we already know what, who, and what political party was wrong or engaged in rigging.

My humble thinking is that if we do not know and we do not publicly address all the problems leading to our August 11 national elections impasse, the same thing will happen again. We will not be able to solve the next or future election problems 4 or 10 to 50 years from now. Remember that we are creating and strengthening our own democracy. Better to solve this problem now that there is peace than during unthinkable crisis after another disputed election result.

2.The United National Independence Party (UNIP) and thousands of the founding fathers and mothers of Zambian democracy involved thousands of people including leaders such as Kenneth Kaunda, Simon Kapwepwe, Harry Nkumbula, Elija Mudenda, Reuben Kamanga, Sololom Kalulu, Justin Chimba, Titus Mukupo, Paul Kalichini, Arthur Wina, Sikota Wina, Munukayumbwa Sipalo, Numino Mundia, Peter Matoka, Mainza Chona, and Dauti Yamba.

They met at Mulungushi Rock with delegates from all over Zambia every so often. They disagreed, resolved, and hammered out solutions creating national unity in the process of making “One Zambia One Nation”.

I recommend that all political parties should participate in one massive national conference of unity so often to discuss and resolve all the issues concerning the August 11 national elections and any other problems to come in the future. Remember that we are creating our own democracy.


The Author is a Professor at Bridgewater College in Department of Sociology in the US and the President and Director of Nkhanga Village Library Project (ZANOBA) www.bridgewater.edu/~mtembo www.bridgewater.edu/zanoba

[Read 253 times, 1 reads today]


    • The author should have kept his PhD in his underwear – we didn’t have to know it. It doesn’t make the article have any more relevance.

      The only good thing about this article is the cabinet picture. The rest is codswallop.



    • Bo Mushota please learn to read and engage your brain before spewing your ignorant and blind cultist allegiance to UPND; before engaging your usual negatives against Zambia and anyone else who dares to be analytical and candid. The article is candid and has an important point. Which the likes of you cannot fathom.

    • ST.upid with no much to read about, he went off target without mentioning the true problems we are facing. Zambians leadership should all be change we need new blood with a vision. PF might not be as different to UPND because we have reached a stage where politics means getting reach by stealing. We need serious intellectuals to change this perception. Not such propaganda writing..

    • Could not enjoy the long weakling & tired article.
      Democracy can only strengthen if visionless Lungu gives power to the speaker & let the presidential petition be heard. Lungu with violent PF bandits have no clue what the economy is. PF can’t even reduce mealie meal prices but alcohol.
      Democracy is a phobia of all PF bandits. Bandits of PF lifted hands & pangas forcing blind Dagama to be PF boss. Let the petition be heard not just canvassing globally ba dununa regret dagama.
      The Skeleton Key

  1. Joseph…you can write a paragraph but you call this useless. Give credit where its due. The man has tried to analyse and propound some very important truths. Just learn. That is the problem with Zambians, we despise scholarly writings instead of learning from them. Wisdom is given on a silver plater but we are disputing it as useless. I think for me I can learn something from the above article.

    • @gono

      After getting independence they had no idea how to transform Zambia into a prosperous nation. They had total faith in copper as the sole earner of forex. Diversifying the economy wasn’t on their agenda. When copper prices dropped and sent the economy spiraling down, a new industry emerged to survive, begging money from the same people they got rid of. This trend has continued up to this day. The national budget still depends on to a large degree on donations from overseas. Have you noticed the govt is more obsessed with finding more strategic partners (donors) to siphon money from than to actually find its own means to generate money? Now that what the team above has spawned the most clueless govt on earth, PF, you can be very sure Zambia will never get anywhere.

    • These guys did their best with what they had. They were pioneers after independence and were bound to make mistakes. However they got a lot of things right and did not enrich themselves. They didn’t have access to a pool of well educated young zambian minds as today so lets not judge their careers by one mistake.

  2. There too much anti intellectualism in Zambia. The likes of Joseph and Mushota are anti-intellectuals all the time.

  3. .i was not a fan of history at school tho i attended history classes…and the article is much of historical than current…2016 Trump election…PF win is all history…if only we concentrated on what could be done to improve our economy….reduce cost of living…unemployment…illicit beer drinking among the youth…sexual behaviour for both among the youth and adults..our collapsing education system and standards…da topics of interest are too numerous to mention… HISTORY..??? neeeh

    • Start with the existence of a country called Zambia, beer drinking, sexual behaviors, etc. You can’t address any of these without history. The only question you may want to ask yourself is how far back do you go?

      So, my friend, history forms the starting point in everything. Can’t move forward without it.

    • @1PLUS1…
      that’s why we have failed as a people..(Africans) because of relying on history and what other people have done in da past….for example lets take a look at the economic status Zambia was in 1964 to about 1970…compare it to current situation…has history made us to be any better…??..what has history done to curb the rampant corruption we are currently witnessing…the underage drinking…sexual behavior…working culture…???

  4. Ignore history at your own peril. You risk repeating it. It makes sense to reflect on the past to prepare for the future. Just saying…

  5. Our fore fathers had one thing in common..”LIBERATE ZAMBIA. and let our children manage their affairs after educating them”. And this they did. Tribe was not an issue. If they made mistakes let us correct them..they gave some education and we apply the knowledge. I like One Zed but Joseph and Wantanshi could be 1st stage of mental illness. Some one has done some thinking and writes an article that requires thinking and the guys make such stupid comments. MULI FINKULA. You no different from the PF SG who does not want the Kantanshi MP ..shallow thinking muno mu Zambia. TUCILIPO. Naya ku South Africa nkesa pali cisano ..we meet guys!!!!

  6. The picture was taken before Kaunda got mentally emancipated as is reflected in his dress. Grey Zulu,Chona, Kapwepwe,Mwanakatwe, Mudenda are dressed like mentally emancipated Zambians. This was in the era when Europeans enforced their dress code of necktie and jacket upon any African who wanted to appear civilised. Yes to look civilised you had to dress like the white man in those days

    • Dressing like copycats is Why kashokis statement is true. We are produced by schools and universities that encourage us to be copycats. So we can’t bring original solutions to our problems. We are waiting for those we copy to come up with solutions

    • @Fresh Prince Even up to now civil servants are told to wear a tie and a jacket to work but people don’t know the colonial history of such dress codes the fact that you had to wear a ‘uniform’ that identified with white people to be accepted as a ‘civilised’ worker

  7. TOP (L – R); (?), Lewis Changufu, Peter Matoka, Nalumino Mundia, Dingiswayo Banda, Arthur Wina, (Solomon Kalulu?), Elijah Mudenda.
    BOTTOM (L – R); Sikota Wina, Reuben Kamanga, Alexander Grey Zulu, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, Mainza Chona, John Mwanakatwe.
    SEATED; Kenneth David Kaunda.

    But was this the first Cabinet? Where was Aaron Milner, Munakayumbu Sipalo and James Skinner then?

    I cannot recognize Justin Chimba if he is one of these fellas!

    These guys had distinctive faces…

  8. The article is a brilliant research and for the 1mbeciles to discredit it is madness. People who are under the shadow of tribalism can’t see sense because their demigod is nowhere near this brainy author.

  9. Dr. Tembo
    Your well thought through article deserves measured responses, no the usual useless pontificating of those who hide behind the anonymity of the internet to pout rubbish that they would be reluctant to voice if their identities were known and they were able to be held accountable. Let me try to respond to your posting.
    Your thesis that we need to grow our own democracy through adjustments made as we move on is very commendable. I also agree that the return to Multi-party politics was an adjustment to previous scenarios, not the genesis of democracy in Zambia. I have a few issues against your posting, though. (1) Zambia had already moved to a place where the the voice of the electorate was the decisive factor in determining the party and person that formed government. The Loss…

  10. of UNIP to MMD in 1991 and that of MMD to PF are cases in point. (2) Zambians wanted to ensure a clear winner and the 50 + 1 clause was the panacea. (3) Zambians wanted a clear and transparent process, before the inauguration of a president, to address the grievances of those who thought their vote had been stolen. Unfortunately, the 2015 PF win is a step backwards in all three respects. Suspicions that the voice of the people did not put Lungu in office is circumstantially supported by a failure to address the grievances of the people through credible jurists and in a transparent manner. What is more, the scheme to ensure this is the case appears to be deliberate.

  11. In light of the above, the critical need now is to restore the eroded credibility to the managers of the elections, the behaviour or state security wings (where only the president may campaign in an entire province at a given time), and the public media. These seem to be deliberate methods, adopted with the counsel of known abusers of electoral practices such as Mugabe and Museveni, and ensured to perpetuate the rule of the incumbent. Zambia has never been in this position before, not even under Kaunda. Under these circumstances, I see no value for a commission of any sort if the same people who so blatantly abuse institutions are in charge of them. I think Zambia needs to press a re-start button to our nationhood. Usually, that means a popular revolution to oust the current government…

  12. Zambia needs to put in place clean institutions that follow the constitution, not the favour of the incumbent. Zambian needs to restore, the voice of the masses through a free public media and a somewhat independent public media. It can never be totally independent while depending on the govt. for funding. Zambia needs jurists who are worth their name, able to take on the executive where necessary as Mwanawasa did in the case against Kaunda, as Judge Musumali did in the same case, as Mambilima did in the case of Rupiah Banda’s loss to Sata. More importantly, we need God’s ethics and standards to permeate the systems in the country. Right now, we are in blasphemy territory and need to be afraid of worse fate than just human indignation.

  13. These were the days when ethnic diversity was really appreciated. Bembas, Lozis, Nyanjas, Tongas and all the rest well represented. When you spoke Lozi, a Bemba would look into your eyes, wanting to know and learn few words, equally when a Bemba was speaking a Lozi would want to be close a learn few words. It went on for other tribes wanting to know each other very well and experimenting on inter marriages. The unfortunate thing was the combination of Sata and Chiluba. These people whether you like it or not have done massive damage to the unity of the country. They commercialized tribalism to the worst extent. MMD was an all inclusive movement and eventually political party, mambwes, namwangas, bembas, lozis, tongas, luchazi, luvales, kaondes, lundas, nyanjas, Lenjes, Solis, name it…

    • We had musicians like Rikki Ililonga who would sing to us in Lozi Bemba and Nyanja and we would all sing along! One Zambia One Nation! Noti bakambwanga aba baisa nomba

  14. @Njoko Sitoto

    Yes, the intermariages under One Zambia One Nation were the greatest and most successful social experiment to ever happen in Zambia. To date the relative peace enjoyed in Zambia can be justly and directly attributed to that unifying moto. Otherwise Zambia would have ended up like our neighbors in the north, the Great Lakes region.
    Unfortunately, the current political setting in the country, both from the greedy incumbent ruling part and the greedy opposition, tend to resort to encouraging the electorate to vote on tribal lines as it is the easiest way to win votes from the undereducated and unsuspecting electorate.

  15. Just look at this and you will see where the stupidity that characterizes our politics all started. Why did graduates like Mwanakatwe, the Winas, Mainza, Mundia etc allow an alien middle school drop out be their president? That same act was repeated with Chiluba and with an educated fool Lungu Chagwa. No doubt, Zambians you are all lunatics.

Comments are closed.

- Advertisement -

Latest News

No Student Will Be Evacuated From China, says Chilufya

Government has maintained that it will not evacuate Zambian students studying in China in the awake of the Coronavirus...

Turkey To Set Up Food Processing Plant

Government has partnered with Turkey’s Molino Mechanical Industry and Trade incorporated to develop a multi million Food Complex City -FCC- in Zambia aimed at...

Kamanga Given 24 Hour Ultimatum To Answer To Theft Allegations

LUSAKA Lawyer LEWIS MOSHO has given FAZ President ANDREW KAMANGA, a 24 hours ultimatum to respond to allegations of theft or his firm will...

Former Local Government Permanent Secretary Timothy Hakuyu dies after Mob attack

Former Local government Permanent Secretary Timothy Hakuyu has died. Mr Hakuyu died in the early hours today, Thursday 20th February 2020 after a...

Sky News is spreading “absurd” news over dry Vic Falls -Peter Jones

Prominent Livingstone based tourism promoter Peter Jones has accused British Broadcaster Sky News of spreading false news about the state of the Victoria Falls. At...

More Articles In This Category

- Advertisement -
[Read 25 times, 1 reads today]