Zambia Government and Politics

State and politics

Zambia Country Flag

Reference: Zambia Flag Meaning

According to, Zambia was dominated from independence in 1964 by President Kenneth Kaunda and his party the United National Independence Party (UNIP), which from 1972-89 was the only country allowed. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of ZA and its meanings of Zambia. Since 1991, the country has a democratic system, which, however, is drawn with shortcomings such as widespread corruption.


In August 1991, a new constitution with multi-party systems was adopted. The country is led by an executive president, who is elected for five years and can be re-elected once. A constitutional amendment 2016 stipulates that a candidate must get at least 50 percent of the vote in order to be elected president, so a second ballot may be required. To avoid re-election if a president dies, every presidential candidate must nominate a candidate for the post of vice president. The President appoints the government among the MPs. All heads of state since independence have been men.

Of the 167 members of Parliament, 156 are elected by majority vote in one-person constituencies, while the president appoints eight members. The three remaining seats are reserved for the Vice President, President and First Vice President. After the 2016 election, 30 of the MPs (18 percent) were women.


In October 1991, the first multi-party was held in accordance with the new constitution. The Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD), a Social Democratic Party with a diffuse program, won 125 seats, while the United National Independence Party (UNIP), the former ruling party, received only 25 seats. MMD’s Frederick Chiluba by far won the presidential election. Kenneth Kaunda, the country’s first president, made an attempt at a political comeback but was accused of planning a coup. At the next election in 1996, UNIP boycotted the elections. Chiluba was re-elected with a large majority but low turnout. The Chiluba government was characterized by scandals and scandals. Several ministers were forced to step down because of corruption, debt and drug deals.

UNIP took part in the parliamentary and presidential elections at the end of 2001. However, the largest opposition party in parliament became the United Party for National Development (UPND), which accused the government of electoral fraud; the election was also rejected by EU observers. Before the presidential election, Chiluba long wanted to go against the constitution’s barriers to a third term, but was eventually persuaded to abstain. MMD candidate Levy Mwanawasa won, but only by 29 percent against UNDP’s Anderson K. Mazoka who gained 27 percent. The opposition was divided into several parties but together gained a majority in parliament. The government of Zambia had never before had a minority in parliament. President Mwanawasa led a surprisingly independent line against Chiluba, with many relocations and dismissals as a result.  Check Countryaah for other countries that start with Z.

Ahead of the 2006 elections, the opposition parties UPND, UNIP and the Forum for Democracy & Development (FDD) merged into an alliance. However, since its candidate Mazoka passed away, the former governor of Lusaka, Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front (PF), became Mwanawasa’s toughest competitor for the presidential post. Although he suffered a stroke earlier this year, Mwanawasa won 43 percent of the vote against Sata’s 29 percent. The MMD again became the largest party in parliament.

In the recent election announced after Mwanawasa died of yet another stroke in 2008, Vice President Rupiah Banda won 40 percent of the vote, 2 percentage points ahead of Sata. Finally, when Sata ran for president for the fourth time in 2011, he managed to win 43 percent of the vote, ahead of Banda (36 percent) and Hakainde Hachilema (18 percent). During his campaign, Sata downplayed his harsh rhetoric against China’s influence in Zambia. In the parliamentary elections, PF became the largest party for the first time when it received five more seats than MMD. Without its own majority, Sata chose to invite MMD into the government.

In October 2014, Sata passed away and was replaced by Vice President Guy Scott, who thus became the first white leader of an African country since 1994, when the apartheid regime lost power in South Africa. Since the constitution prohibits presidential candidates whose parents, like Scotts, were born abroad, he could not stand in the presidential election in January 2015. The time leading up to the new election was marked by power struggles and internal strife within the ruling party PF. Party Secretary General and Minister of Justice and Defense, Edgar Lungu, was supported by one phalanx, while Sata’s nephew Miles Sampa was supported by another, which included Scott. Only after a decision in the Supreme Court did it become clear that Lungu would become the party’s presidential candidate. In a poll that attracted only 32 percent of voters, Lungu received 48 percent of the vote against 47 percent for Hachilema (UPND).

Following constitutional amendments in 2016, elections were held for both Parliament and the presidential post that same year. This time, too, it was even between Lungu and Hachilema; according to the Election Commission, the incumbent president received 50.35 percent of the vote, against 47.6 percent for Hichilema. The latter appealed the result but with reference to a technicality, a disagreeable constitutional court rejected the appeal without formally addressing the case. In Parliament, PF increased to 80 seats while UPND also went ahead and received 58 seats. Due to violence in the capital Lusaka during the election movement, all politicians were banned from campaigning for ten days just a month before the election.


The legal system in Zambia is based on a mixture of domestic legislation, imported English legal principles and local customary law, to which comes the religious right of certain ethnic groups. The highest courts are the High Court and the Supreme Court. The death penalty remains in the legislation but is de facto abolished in 1997.

Heads of State


1964-91 Kenneth Kaunda
1991-2002 Frederick Chiluba
2002-08 Levy Mwanawasa
2008-11 Rupiah Banda
2011-14 Michael Sata
2014-15 Guy Scott
2015- Edgar Lungu

Zambia Head of Government

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