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9 Democracy Unrealized Zambia’s Third Republic under Frederick Chiluba David J. Simon When Frederick Chiluba defeated Kenneth Kaunda in a competitive, multiparty presidential election in Zambia in 1991, hopes for democracy in Africa were high (e.g., van Donge 1995; Joseph 1992). Kaunda and his United National Independence Party (UNIP) had been in power for twenty-seven years, much of that time as the sole legal political party in Zambia. Chiluba’s Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) suggested—by its name alone, as well as by its slogan—that the hour had indeed come for democracy in Africa. Over the course of Chiluba’s ten years in office, however, Zambian democracy struggled to live up to its early promise. A decade later, following two declared states of emergency, two sets of flawed and controversial elections, and sporadic political violence, many had begun to feel that Chiluba and the MMD resembled their predecessors in political style. For example, Richard Joseph (1998, 6), one of Zambian democracy’s early and most prominent boosters, declared the Zambian experience to be “the archetypical example of . . . political closure,” accusing Chiluba of having “taken Zambia back to the worst period of . . . [the] relatively mild authoritarian governance under Kaunda” (see also Chabal and Daloz 1999, 35; Mphaisha 1996, 65; Nyambe 1999). Following elections in 1996, Zambia’s Freedom House rating reverted back to 4.5 (“partly free”), after having surged from 5.5 (“not free”) to 2.5 (“free”) in 1991.1 The general elections in December 2001 brought an end to the Chiluba era, but revealed additional weaknesses in Zambia’s democracy: no presidential candidate (including the winner, the MMD’s Levy Mwanawasa) earned as much as 30 percent of the vote, while international observers decried the lack of transparency in the counting and tabulating of the votes (e.g., Carter Center 2002). The opposition initially challenged the outcome in court and pursued strategies of noncooperation with the government. By the end of Chiluba’s two terms, the promise of the 1991 transition remained 199 mostly unrealized. The fundamental institutional changes of 1991 made regular elections possible,2 made opposition parties legal, and gave increased protection to the press. Yet, though these changes are necessary elements of democratization, they have not proved sufficient. In this chapter, I examine the shortcomings of the Zambian democratic experience using the Dahlian lenses of competition and participation that Bratton and van de Walle (1997) employ in the work that stands as a backdrop for this volume. After surveying political patterns and events along those dimensions, I address the extent to which deficiencies in institutional design can account for the shortcomings of Zambian democracy. In Zambia, institutions have failed to constrain political behavior (of elites and the masses alike)—which may indeed be the hallmark of an unconsolidated democracy. Accordingly, I also address the extra-institutional influences on political behavior in Zambia, including historically informed norms, the economic context, and the role of international actors. Democracy in the Third Republic According to Robert Dahl (1971), the essential components of democracy are participation and competition. While the prescriptive value of Dahl’s work is a matter of some dispute, one may assess and compare levels of democracy across polities using these dimensions. One means of acquiring a handle on the disputed concept of democratic consolidation (O’Donnell 1996; Schedler 1998) is to consider the extent to which participation and contestation have become (or have yet to become) permanent and nonviolent features of politics in a country—such as Zambia—that has undergone a transition. Participation Participation is a fundamental element of democracy. It is essential both to have opportunities to make political choices, and to take advantage of those opportunities , in order to constrain the incumbent from pursuing goals that are antithetical to the public interest. Ideally, vibrant political participation forces politicians to subordinate their own interests to those of the public—or at least to some majoritarian subset thereof. Zambian politics appeared to live up to this ideal in 1991, when protests, rallies, and election-day voting forced out a regime that had presided over mostly deteriorating economic and social conditions for the previous twenty-seven years. Without the thousands of people who turned out to rallies and the nearly one million Zambians who turned out to vote for the MMD, the transition period would have involved a protracted power struggle between elites. Even if the elites who led the call for multipartyism had been fundamentally...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780253003119
Related ISBN
9780253345752
MARC Record
OCLC
646339732
Pages
336
Launched on MUSE
2012-02-08
Language
English
Open Access
No
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