ZAMBIA’S POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT
The borders of Northern Rhodesia (present day Zambia) were drawn by the British between 1890 and 1911. This scenario is very similar among African countries as their borders were drawn by the colonial powers after the Berlin Conference that gave go ahead to the Scramble for Africa. Before the encroachment on the African continent by the European powers, the territories that existed were ruled by independent chiefs representing different ethnic groupings.
The British South African Company under the leadership of Capitalist John Cecil Rhodes created the state of Northern Rhodesia after entering into agreements with different chiefs. Chiefdoms that never cooperated with the British South African Company were fought and defeated by the company’s soldiers. Those that cooperated with the company become protectorates of the BSACo.
By the year 1911, Northern Rhodesia become a colony of the British Government who had taken over from the British South African Company. The British made sure that the Chiefs had lost their independence and the colonial government was fully in control of Northern Rhodesia. This greatly restricted the freedom of African natives and the desired to have their independence from the colonial masters.
In the 1912, something was brewing the Northern Province of Northern Rhodesia ( present day Muchinga Province) in then Isoka District (now part of Nakonde District) at Mwenzo Mission Station. The first Welfare Society was formed by Donald Siwale. The journey to Zambia’s Political Development began to take shape. The voice of the Native Africans began to be represented among the colonial masters. In 1946, the Welfare Societies that existed at the time were merged to form the Federation of Welfare Societies with Dauti Yamba as the new leader.
Two years later, in 1946, Godwin Mbikusita Lewanika formed the first registered Political Party by African Natives called the Northern Rhodesia African Congress. The aim of this political party was to resist the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland which the colonial powers were planning and later implemented. The party was also earmarked to fight for the sovereignty of Africans. Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula was appointed leader of the Northern Rhodesia African Congress in 1951. This move was aimed at strengthening the party as Nkumbula had a great public appeal to coax more Africans to support the fight for Nationalism. Later the party changed its name to the African National Congress with the hope of strengthening the party and resisting the Federation.
When the African National Congress failed to stop the Federation in 1953, it caused a split within the party such that Kenneth Kaunda and other young nationalists broke away from the party. They went on to form a new political party called the Zambia African National Congress (ZANC)s in 1958. They had set out to achieve independence contrary to the aims of the African National Congress (ANC). The party was banned by the colonial government the very year it was formed and the Leader Kenneth Kaunda was sent to jail. In 1959, a new political party was formed and as fate would have it, the core members of the Zambia African National Congress were the founding members of the United National Independence Party (UNIP). The party was led by Mainza Chona when Kaunda was still imprisoned. When Kaunda was released from jail, he assumed the leadership of the party. This party would then went on to lead the independence charge and bring liberation to the African Natives
In 1961, the struggle for independence in Northern Rhodesia reached fever pitch as a series of demonstrations and heightened civil disobedience in which people blocked roads , destroyed bridges and the burning of government property made the colonial government to call fro elections in 1962. This campaign by the African Natives was Cha Cha Cha meaning the “New Dawn”
In the 1962 elections, the results produced a “Hang Parliament” and led to the United National Independence Party and the African National Congress Party forming a Coalition Government. The following year in 1963 saw the end of the Federation.
In 1964, fresh elections were held with United National Independence Party amassed the majority seats in Parliament winning 55 of the 65 that were in Parliament. African National Congress remained as an opposition party to the ruling UNIP. This signalled the end of European minority rule and ushered in African majority rule under the leadership of His Excellency Kenneth David Kaunda as the first Republican President of the new country called Zambia which hoisted its new flag on the 24th of October, 1964. The new country also sang its new song of freedom called the National Anthem written by an African Nationalist known as Enock Sontonga.
Kenneth Kaunda led Zambia from 1964 to 1991 as President of Zambia. From 1972 to 1991, Zambia was under the one party state which meant that Kaunda never had opposition to his presidency. In 1991, Zambia reverted to plural politics and Kaunda was defeated by Fredrick Titus Jacob Chiluba when elections were called. Kaunda graciously accepted defeated and handed over the instruments of power to Fredrick Chiluba of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy. During Chiluba’s reign, the country helped to broker peace deals in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola.
Since 1991 to this day, the country has enjoyed plural politics and has been the beacon of hope for the region when it comes to plural politics.