Until the early 1960s, the history of northern Rhodesia was identified with that of southern Rhodesia, which later became Zimbabwe. Until 1963 Northern Rhodesia was united in a Federation with the territory of Niassa; then, in that year, the Federation broke up and the United National Independence Party began its contestation to obtain independence from England which, in fact, arrived on October 24, 1964. The country assumed the new name of Zambia, president K. Kaunda, head of the Single Party.
With this, a real “zambianization” of all the structures of the country began, from economic to bureaucratic ones, even if to see a Zambian at the top of the army it was necessary to wait until 1970.
In 1969 there were many state holdings in the mining industries and in 1973 many nationalizations occurred which naturally entailed many difficulties.
According to Abbreviationfinder, an acronym site which also features history of Zimbabwe, the elections of December 1973 saw a very low turnout and this was a clear sign of citizenship that no longer liked the existence of the single party, and only with 20% of the votes was Kaunda re-elected.
In foreign policy, Zambia wanted to end relations with other Rhodesia; it minimized trade with South Africa because it did not share its policy, and instead helped Mozambique in its struggle for independence. The relations with Malawi and Tanzania were also good, with which it was closely connected by a direct railway, the Tan-Zam, built with the financial and technical help of popular China.
In 1974, with the drop in the international price of copper and the military expenses incurred to stop the attacks of the other Rhodesia, the economy suffered considerable discomfort.
The elections of December 1978 saw Kaunda reconfirmed who, however, appointed a new premier in the person of Mainza Chona. Meanwhile, there was also an increase in opponents, led by S. Kapwepwe. He had joined the one party and brought with him an important ethnic group, that of the Bemba, against Kaunda, who organized a coup in October 1980.
All this had happened due to popular discontent due to the economic downturn, always due to the drop in the price of copper, the country’s only mineral resource. The crisis became so severe that in the years 1982/83 a real austerity regime had to be applied. Strikes and protests followed each other relentlessly in the most important areas of the country but Kaunda, after a reconciliation with the unions, despite everything recovered a certain credibility and also won the elections of October 1983.
He immediately organized a reform policy and also set himself a tough fight against growing corruption. The austerity measures provoked serious dissensions especially in the student environment, so much so that the University of Lusaka, the first forge of the rebellions, had to be closed in 1984. And while Kaunda continued in its anti-corruption crusade, especially in government circles, they were also strikes were officially banned in 1985. In May 1986 other riots imposed drastic measures and the University of Lusaka was closed again.
Then, with the abolition of the state subsidy on corn flour and the 70% increase in the price of fuel, there was also a significant increase in protests and in May 1987 the government announced a plan to restore the economy based on a state control system.
A providential increase in the international price of copper and a good harvest, then, helped to ease the tension a bit but in 1987/88 harsh repressions had to be applied again in order not to allow the increase in political instability, consequent to the economic situation.
In the presidential elections of October 1988 Kaunda obtained his sixth term but the country’s discontent, always due to the economic crisis, resulted in a riot in July 1989 and in 1990 the introduction of austerity measures provoked violent unrest in the capital.
In late June 1990, after a repressed coup attempt by the military, Kaunda promised an important revision of the Constitution and the establishment of a multi-party political system.
Thus in July 1990 the Movement for Multiparty Democracy was born, led by a former minister, A. Wina, and by F. Chiluba, president of the Congress of Trade Unions. On August 2, 1991 the new Constitution came into force which provided for:
– a multiparty system;
– head of state and executive the President of the Republic, elected for 5 years
by direct universal suffrage;
– the President of the Republic appoints and chairs the Cabinet of Ministers;
– the National Assembly, made up of 150 members elected every 5 years by universal suffrage,
holds legislative power;
– the President of the Republic cannot be elected more than twice.
The political and presidential elections of October 31, 1991 were won by F. Chiluba. The newly elected immediately began his economic and social recovery work. The politically difficult internal situation due to the formation of many anti-government tendencies made his government increasingly difficult.
In late 1994, after applying new austerity measures, the government managed to decrease the state deficit and inflation. But the International Monetary Fund still refused an international loan to Zambia, declaring that it had not yet acquired the necessary conditions to obtain it.
The 1990s were very intense for Zambia for its foreign policy which saw:
– its intense participation in the fight against apartheid in the South African Republic;
– important agreements with Angola for the mutual protection of their borders;
– the contribution of 1000 men sent to Mozambique, to implement the peace mission promoted by the United Nations.
The government underwent several reshuffles and divisions; the latter were largely due to the unshared proposal to privatize the state-owned company for the extraction of copper.
But Chiluba’s plan to make an amendment to the Constitution also encountered many obstacles in order to limit freedom of the press and political participation. Then, a further restrictive measure came to prevent the possibility of applying to all those who were not born to both Zambian parents. And with this we wanted to strictly forbid any candidacy in Kaunda whose parents were immigrants from Malawi.
This situation of authoritarian and absurd protagonism of the President, in the summer of 1996 provoked negative reactions both in the United States and in Norway, which decided to cut aid to Zambia. Other European countries joined them by sharing their same principle.
The government was forced to modify the Constitution and introduce more appropriate rules for democracy. The approval of the National Assembly was thus obtained in May 1996 and the presidential elections were held in November. These registered a very low involvement of the voters, but this did not prevent the re-election of Chiluba, whose party also obtained an absolute majority of government. Very few seats were the prerogative of the opposition; the independent ones were more numerous.
The year 1997 was bad for Kaunda. In fact, he was injured by the police in a demonstration in August 1997. In December he was placed under house arrest because he was considered an accomplice in a coup, which took place in the previous October. In June 1998 he was found innocent.
In February 1999 Lusaka was shocked by serious episodes but then, in April, all the opposition parties, by unanimous decision, joined together and formed a unified political party.