Political and Economic Liberalisation in Zambia, 1991-2001

Political and Economic Liberalisation in Zambia, 1991-2001

Political and Economic Liberalisation in Zambia, 1991-2001

Political and Economic Liberalisation in Zambia, 1991-2001


This book analyses the implementation of political and eco-nomic liberalization in Zambia during the first two election periods (1991-2001). Focusing on the negotiations between government and the key domestic interest groups, as well as the dialogues between the MMD government and the international donor community, the book argues that despite a disastrous socio-economic record, the processes of political and economic liberalization proceeded concomitantly without seriously affecting or undermining each other. Contrary to expectations linked both to the political and economic reform processes, executive dominance increased in Zambia in the 1990s. Stressing continuity rather than change, the analysis of Zambia's reform processes suggests that the practices of patronage politics associated with authoritarian regimes are compatible with processes of political and economic liberalization.


This book is about political and economic liberalisation in Zambia in the period 1991–2001. The following questions of research guide the empirical analysis: How do processes of political and economic reform interrelate? And, do economic and political transition processes reinforce or hinder one another? I analyse negotiations between the Zambian government and key domestic interest groups on the implementation of structural adjustment reforms through two election periods; 1991–1996 and 1996–2001. Furthermore, I assess the dialogue on political and economic reform between the MMD government and the international donor community represented by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and Zambia's main bilateral donors.

The Case of Zambia

In 1991 the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), an opposition drawn from a broad coalition of trade unions, business interests, intellectuals and students, won an overwhelming electoral victory over the single party for the previous 17 years, the United National Independence Party (UNIP). As one of the first countries in sub-Saharan Africa to do so, Zambia experienced a peaceful transition to multiparty rule. One of the most significant aspects of the transition was the fact that MMD in its election manifesto (MMD 1991) committed itself to implement a liberal economic reform programme. This had been attempted since the early 1980s by the UNIP one-party government without success. Zambia thereby joined the ranks of a number of countries in Latin America, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa that replaced authoritarian governments with elected ones, while simultaneously attempting to implement far-reaching economic reforms.

The international donor community in turn generously rewarded the new government's commitment to both political and economic change. In the late 1980s, a new aid policy had evolved arguing that processes of political and economic reform were mutually reinforcing and should, therefore, be implemented simultaneously (World Bank 1992; Landell-Mills 1992; Moore 1993; Nelson and Eglington 1992). The peaceful transition to multiparty democracy in 1991 . . .

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