Notable Names in Zambian History: Part 1

Mundia Mubita,

From pre independence to date, Zambia, formerly northern Rhodesia has names that have gone down in its history which are never to be scraped off. Although some have been widely publicized and others in low lime light.

Zambia gained independence in 1964, on October 24th. At independence, the country was led by Dr. Kenneth Kaunda who was elected prime minister and later president. After this the country adopted the one party state which left the UNIP as the sole party in power. Dr. Kaunda was the re-lected in 1973, 1978, 1983 and 1988.

Later Sylvester Mwamba Chisembele, who was a Cabinet Minister for Western, Eastern and Copperbelt provinces, together with other UNIP leaders established a committee of 14, with the objective of two members from the 7 provinces to rule the country by consensus with the President as Head of State. However this did not go through which led to the suspension of Chisembele and other members. He was later recalled back to duty in 1977.

Before the one party state declaration,

Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe and Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula had been party presidents for UPP and ANC political parties, who had joined UNIP with intents of challenging the presidency. These ambitions failed as they both were prevented and disqualified by political manipulations and President Kaunda stood an opposed. The duo challenged the election of President Kaunda in the High Court, but their action was unsuccesful. The end of the one party state declined as several strikes hit the country in 1981. The government in return arrested some union learders, among them Frederick Chiluba. 1986-1990 saw protests in Lusaka and Copperbelt over increased food prices in which atleast 30 people were killed.

Later in 1990, a public radio announced that Kaunda had been removed from office by the army. This however was not true which saw the coup d’etat attempt fail.

In this period President Kaunda saw the need for change and lift the ban on multi political parties. And eleven new parties were formed, among them the MMD, which was led by Frederick Chiluba. In 1991 elections which were regarded as free and fair, the MMD won presidency by 76%. Chiluba despite him being a former union leader, with the support of International Monetary Fund and World Bank, to which Zambia was heavily indebted, He liberalized the economy by restricting government interference, re-privatizing state owned enterprises (the copper mining industry and removal of subsidies on varies commodities).

In 1993, a state owned paper published an article called “Zero Operation Plan”, a secret UNIP plot to take over government unconstitutionally. The government then declared a state of emergency, which saw 26 people in detention including Kaunda’s son Wezi Kaunda. This group was later released after being charged.

Before the 1996 election, UNIP formed an alliance with other opposition political party with Kaunda, who had retired from politics returned due to the party instability and replaced his successor Kebby Musokotwane.