PART 2-1964- 1973

By Amb. Emmanuel Mwamba

From Multiparty State to One-party State

Zambia was set to become independent in 1964.

As the largest producer of copper in the world, it held foreign reserves exceeding a year’s GDP.

Zambia was seen as one of the wealthiest new democracies emerging from colonial Africa with the brightest hopes to succeed and prosper as a new state in Africa.

1964- Other than successful multiparty elections, a matter mars the country at the dawn of the new start. On August 3 1964, over 1300 men, women and children, followers of Prophetess Lenshina (born Alice Mulenga Lubusha) and the Lumpa Church, have been massacred by state forces in what is termed as the Lumpa Uprising.

Lenshina was arrested and her church commanding over 120,000 followers was banned.

Most of her close followers fled into exile in Zaire and Tanzania.

October, 1964 – Zambia becomes independent. It is a multi-party democracy with a liberal economy driven by the private sector.

UNIP is the governing party while the African National Congress (ANC) led by Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula since 1951 became the official Opposition party in Parliament.

1965 – On the eve of Zambia’s first Independence Anniversay, Kenneth Kaunda affirms that his government will pursue the “One Zambia One Nation Motto”. He also makes a fundamental declaration; “I want to see a nation governed by men governed by God”. He also said; “…we can show the world that as a Christian Nation, God is all powerful in our family life”

1967- United National Independence Party(UNIP) Annual General Conference held on 14th-20th August 1967. The party conference was divided by ethnic lines. Foreign Affairs Minister and child-hood friend of Kaunda, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe defeated the Vice President, Ruben Chitandika Kamanga from Kaunda’s camp.

After the Congress, Kapwepwe as per party dictates, became the new Vice President, and also Minister of Finance.

However by 1969, a deep rift had emerged between the two and he resigned as Vice President.

Kaunda declined Kapwepwe’s resignation but later in 1970, he dropped him as Vice President and replaced him with Mainza Chona. Kapwepwe was however retained in government and held the portfolios of Local Government and Minister of Culture.

1967- Commerce Minister, Nalumino Mundia resigns from UNIP Government and forms his own United Party(UP).

In the run-up to national elections in 1968, he held a rally in Matero township in Lusaka. This led to his detention over his remarks at the rally.

He was detained with Henry Ndhlovu, William Chipango, Dickson Chikulo, Julie Namakando and Adamson Mushala. The group were acquitted in August 1968.

1968- First national elections after Independence. Kenneth Kaunda is subjected to the first direct vote which he won by a resounding 82%.

The 10 reserved roll seats for whites were abolished, and Parliament was increased to 105 members of parliament. The President was allowed to appoint 5 nominated MPs.

1968- A referendum is held to give powers to Parliament to amend the Constitution without resorting to a national referendum process.

1968-In April 1968, Kaunda announced major shift of the structure of the economy through reforms outlined as Mulungushi and Matero Reforms.

The aim was to nationalise foreign-owned firms and direct resources there-of to national development through State enterprises.

Government declared its intention to acquire equity holdings in key foreign-owned firms including the mines.

It also formed the Industrial Development Corporation (INDECO) to hold and control 51% shareholding in these companies.

By January 1970, Zambia had acquired majority holdings of the foreign-owned mining firms of Anglo American Corporation (Nchanga Consolidated Copper Mines) and Rhodesia Selection Trust (Roan Consolidated Mines).

Government created new holdings companies in Mining Development Corporation (MINDECO) and The Finance and Development Corporation (FINDECO) to gain control in banking, building society and insurance.

These were later merged under the Zambia Industrial and Mining Corporation (ZIMCO).

1970- Mufulira Mine Disaster. On 25th September 1970, an underground breach of a tailing dam occurred. An estimated two million tonnes of water, slime cascaded into the main working area of Mufulira Copper Mine. It choked the mine’s main and intermediate haulage, crusher and pumping station.

This resulted in the tragic death of 89 miners.

The tragedy occurred when the government of Kenneth Kaunda was facing serious social-political challenges.

The scale and horror of the mine tragedy, helped set new safety standards for Mufulira and other mines.

1971- Former Vice President Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe resigned from government, and led the break-away, United Progressive Party.

In December 1971 he won a by-election in Mufulira West much to the disappointment and indignant of the leadership of UNIP.

1972- Kapwepwe’s United Progressive Party(UPP) was banned in February 1972.

Kapwepwe was a renowned radical, militant and anti-western figure and viewed as pro-Russian, pro-Chinese nationalist, and his deep influence over certain regions of the country paused numerous challenges to Kaunda and various capitalistic interests.

1972- Vice President, Mainza Chona is appointed to lead the Mainza Chona Constitutional Review Commission.

The single purpose of the Constitutional Review Commission is to set up a One-Party State, modelled under the Soviet’s one-party state system.

The outcome document asserted the supremacy of UNIP. Government rejected the Commission’s liberal proposals such as restricting the President to two- five year terms, placing limits on period of detention without trial.
Government also rejected the propasal that stated that the President should share executive powers with the Prime Minister, a newly created post after the abolition of the position of Vice President.

In 1972, the Second Republic under a “One-Party-Participatory Democracy” was inaugurated and UNIP was declared the sole legal party on 8th December 1972 by the National Assembly.

But it was only after August 1973, that Parliament approved the new Constitution, thereby ushering-in the Second Republic epoch.

1973- The Choma Declaration signed between UNIP’s President Kenneth Kaunda and main Opposition African National Congress (ANC) leader Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula to “compel” him to accede to the demands and reality of the creation of the one-party state and concede to dissolve the ANC and merge it into UNIP.

Formed in 1948, the historical liberal and Zambia’s largest Opposition party lay disbanded after the Choma Declaration.

The supremacy of UNIP over government, institutionalised the supremacy of UNIP over government organs and the UNIP Central Committee of the party became supreme over Cabinet!


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