Political situation Governance deficiencies

After gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1964, Zambia was governed for many years by president and “founding father” Kenneth Kaunda. In 1990, in a peaceful transition of power, Kaunda was replaced by the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD), marking the end of the one-party system.

Freedom Statue in Lusaka, Zambia

Freedom Statue in Lusaka, Zambia

Freedom Statue in Lusaka, Zambia

The opposition Patriotic Front (PF) won elections held in autumn 2011. Following the death in office of President Michael Sata, a presidential by-election was held in January 2015. Edgar Lungu of the PF was elected President and was reconfirmed in office in August 2016, winning election by a narrow margin.


The most recent transfers of power have been peaceful and, by and large, Zambia has a functioning state. Yet the current government is limiting the space for civil society, the media, opposition parties and human rights advocates. State authorities are abusing freedom of opinion and of the press, freedom of association and of assembly, citing the Public Order Act, a law that dates back to colonial times. In the summer of 2017, the leader of the opposition, Hakainde Hichilema (United Party for National Development, UPND), was imprisoned for four months and was only released following intervention by the Commonwealth. Plans were subsequently made for a National Dialogue between government and opposition, facilitated by the churches; this was launched in October 2018. Youth party members from both the opposition and governing parties are, however, continuing to intimidate their opponents with shows of violence.

Widespread corruption is shaking the public's faith in the state. In 2020, the non-governmental organisation Transparency International ranked Zambia 117th out of 180 countries on its Corruption Perceptions Index (External link).

Development goals

In its Vision 2030 (External link), the Zambian government has defined its goal as to make Zambia a “prosperous middle-income country” by 2030. It is working towards this long-term goal on the basis of five-year plans. The seventh of those plans is currently in place, covering the period 2017 to 2021. In it, the government sets out the following goals: to reduce poverty and vulnerability, to diversify and make economic growth inclusive and to create a conducive governance environment. The 2019 budget, however, places the emphasis elsewhere.