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History of elections in Zambia

KAMBILIMA

Analysis: TIMOTHY KAMBILIMA
IN ZAMBIA, elections are held within the framework of a multi-party democracy and a presidential system. The President and National Assembly are simultaneously elected for five-year terms. I would like to look at the Zambian electoral system before and after independence. Before independence elections for five members of the Advisory Council were held for the first time in 1918, at which time suffrage was limited to British subjects over the age of 21 who had lived in the territory for at least six months and owned at least £150 of property. Elections under the same system were held in 1920 and 1922. In 1924, a Legislative Council with five elected members was created in 1926 and   the first elections held.
Before the 1929 elections, the number of elected members was increased to seven. Subsequent elections were held in 1932, 1935 and 1938. The 1941 elections saw eight members elected, with the new Northern Rhodesian Labour Party winning five seats. However, after its defeat in the 1944 elections, the party was disbanded. Prior to the 1948 elections, the number of elected members was increased to 10, with two Africans appointed to the Council.
In 1953, the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was formed, with all territories electing members to the federal Legislative Assembly. The first federal elections were held in the same year. Northern Rhodesia had eight ordinary seats, and three members representing African interests, two of which were Africans chosen by an electoral college and one European appointed by the governor. Only three Africans qualified to vote. The Federal Party won seven of the eight ordinary seats.
Constitutional reforms saw the number of elected seats in the Northern Rhodesian Legislative Council increase to 12 in 1954, with four African members selected by the Northern Rhodesian African Representative Council. The 1954 elections resulted in a victory for the Federal Party, which won 10 seats. The next federal elections in 1958 saw a landslide victory for the United Federal Party (UFP), the successor of the Federal Party, which won 46 of the 59 seats.
The Legislative council was expanded to 22 elected members for the 1959 elections. It provided for 12 ordinary seats with mostly Europeans, six “special” seats mainly reserved for Africans, two reserved for Africans and two reserved for Europeans. The UFP retained their majority, winning 13 seats. Further constitutional reforms led to another electoral system being implemented for the 1962 elections, with 15 members elected by an upper roll, 15 elected by a lower roll and 15 by both rolls together. Although the UFP won the most seats, the United National Independence Party (UNIP) and the Northern Rhodesian African National Congress (NRANC) were able to form a coalition government.
The next elections in 1964 were held under another new system, with 65 seats elected by an African “main roll” and 10 seats by a “reserved roll” primarily for Europeans. The result was a victory for UNIP, which won 55 of the 75 seats, making Kenneth Kaunda to become Prime Minister, and subsequently First President when Zambia became independent on October 24, 1964. After independence, general elections in 1968 included the first vote for president, with Kaunda defeating Zambian African National Congress (a renamed NRANC) leader Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula with 82 percent of the vote. The reserved 10 seats in the National Assembly were abolished and the number of elected seats increased to 105, with an additional five members appointed by the President. Of the elected seats, UNIP won 81.
Zambia became a one-party state in 1973 and  elections in the same year saw Kaunda run unopposed for the presidency, with voters voting yes or no to his candidacy (89 percent voted in favour). The National Assembly now had 125 elected seats, 10 presidential appointees and a Speaker elected from outside the chamber. Although UNIP was the only legal party, up to three UNIP candidates could contest each seat. The same system was used for elections in 1978, 1983 and 1988, with Kaunda re-elected each time.
Multi-party democracy was restored in 1991, with general elections held in October that year. Kaunda was defeated by Frederick Chiluba of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) in the presidential elections, with Chiluba receiving 76 percent of the vote. The MMD won 125 of the 150 elected seats in an expanded National Assembly, whilst the number of presidential appointees was reduced to eight. Chiluba was re-elected in the 1996 elections, with the MMD winning 131 seats and UNIP losing all 25 seats it had scooped in 1991.
The MMD candidate Levy Mwanawasa won the 2001 presidential elections with just 29 percent of the vote in a field of 11 candidates. The MMD was reduced to 69 seats in the National Assembly, with opposition parties gaining a majority. Mwanawasa was re-elected in 2006 with 43 percent of the vote, although the MMD again failed to win majority of seats in the National Assembly. After the death Mwanawasa on August 19, 2008, presidential elections were held for a candidate to serve the remainder of his five-year term. The elections were won by the MMD’s Rupiah Banda.
The 2011 general elections saw the Patriotic Front (PF) candidate Michael Sata elected President with 42 percent of the vote, whilst the PF became the largest party in the National Assembly, winning 60 seats.  After Mr Sata’s death on October 28, 2014, another presidential election was held in January 2015 and won by the PF’s Edgar Lungu, who received 48 percent of the vote beating his close contender Hakainde Hichilema of the UPND.
From 1991, the President had been elected in a single round of voting by the first-past-the-post system. However, the 2016 elections are likely to see the two-round system  or re-run used. The constitutional changes have been approved by the National Assembly and the President has assented to it as we all know. The 2015 constitutional amendments provide for a running mate, who would serve the remainder of the five-year term without the need for a by-election in the instance of the death of an incumbent. Of the 159 members of the National Assembly, 150 are elected by the first-past-the-post system in single-member constituencies; with a further eight appointed by the President and a Speaker elected from outside the National Assembly. Since independence in 1964, only one national referendum has been held in Zambia.
A constitutional referendum in 1969 saw 85 percent of voters approve amendments to the constitution to remove the need for referendums on certain constitutional amendments.
This year we are likely to have the second referendum on August 11 if no changes are made.
The author is a Luanshya based historian and former Chalimbana University student.

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